Summer Activity! Start an Indoor Garden!

If you’re worried about your kids losing academic skills over the summer, you might be searching for activities to keep them mentally stimulated. You might have already signed up for a summer reading program or researched some fun math activities. However, throwing in some hands-on science activities can also be fun and educational for kids!

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Kids learn best when they’re actively engaged in an activity. If you’re looking for a fun hands-on science activity that you can start this summer and continue into the school year, consider growing your own indoor garden!

Benefits

Aside from providing a fun activity, there are additional benefits to starting an indoor garden.

  • Having plants around your house improves your air quality because they aid in air filtration.
  • If you opt for herbs, veggies, or fruits, you can use what you grow in your cooking
  • Plants are aesthetically pleasing
  • A garden will attract birds, bees, butterflies etc.
  • Taking care of plants can provide your child with a sense of responsibility

Gardening options

An indoor garden doesn’t have to be overwhelming. You can make it as large or as little as you would like.

A small garden can be as simple as getting a few small pots and placing them in your windowsill. Even watching a single seed grow can provide some good educational talking points. If you opt for this option, you’ll want to make sure you choose a window that gets a good amount of sunlight.

If you want to take your indoor level to the next level, you can invest in an indoor garden box to put near your windows. These are raised boxes specifically designed for indoor gardening. Most gardening stores sell them, or you can build your own. A bonus of building your own is that you can build it at the perfect height for your tiny gardener!

If you have older children who already have a good understanding of gardening basics or if you’re living in a small space, you might want to consider a hydroponic system. Hydroponics involves growing plants using a nutrient-rich solution instead of soil. You can find a number of hydroponic kits to get started available online, or you can build your own system.

What you’ll need

Plants

Decide if you want to grow flowers, fruits, vegetables, or herbs. After you pick what you want to grow, decide if you want seeds or cuttings. Starting with seeds is a great option if you have kids because they’ll get to see the entire life cycle of a plant. Seeds also tend to be less expensive, which can be useful if some of your plants end up not making it.

Containers

You can use almost anything for a container as long as there is proper drainage. You can buy plastic or clay pots meant for gardening. These pots will have drainage holes at the bottom.

For a less expensive option, you can dig through your recycling bin for old milk cartons, butter containers, or egg cartons. Just make sure to punch holes in the bottom of your recycled container for drainage!

Grow lights

If you live in a house or apartment that doesn’t receive a lot of natural sunlight, you’ll either need to invest in plants that don’t need a lot of sunlight or invest in grow lights. Grow lights are a great option because they are specifically designed to provide indoor plants with the light they need. Even if you live in the darkest of homes, a grow light will have you saying “Look at our new indoor garden”!

Growing medium

You’ll, of course, need something for your plants to grow in. If you’re going with the traditional container or the garden box approach, you’ll want to invest in a quality potting mix. If going for the hydroponic approach, you’ll want to choose a medium that works well with your chosen system.

Child-size gardening tools

Your child will enjoy having their own tools to garden with! Invest in shovels, trowels, and watering cans that are the right size for your child.

Connecting it to learning

The best way to connect your new garden to learning is by taking your child’s lead. Children are naturally curious, so wait for your child to ask questions. You and your child can then research the questions together, either on the computer or at the library.

Possible topics you’ll explore together include why do plants need sunlight, what the life cycle of a plant is, and how can you tell if a plant is healthy.

Remember — keep it fun! The whole point of your new indoor garden is to allow your child to explore the world around them. A great indoor learning environment creates happy and healthy kids.

5 Environmental Effects of COVID-19

Even the gravest of occurrences have some silver linings, and COVID-19, in all of its dreariness, has been pretty good to Mother Earth. There have been some negative drawbacks, but on the whole, the environment is one thing that has actually been positively affected by the novel coronavirus. Stay-at-home orders mean less cars on the road, and social distancing means less people at national parks and beaches in need of a good cleaning. A study now published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal went as far as to say, “In China alone, all of these air quality improvements that have outnumbered confirmed [COVID-19-related] deaths thus far.”

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Here is a closer look at 5 positive environmental impacts caused by COVID-19.

1. Environmentally Friendly Infrastructure

With many citizens greatly limiting their travel, cities and states alike have been upgrading their transportation systems (trains, cars, planes, etc.). At a quick glance, a reasonable response to that would be, “Nice, better roads,” but fortunately, with advances in infrastructure resilient to climate change, it also means structures made with environmentally friendly materials, reduced waste, and made renewable-resource-ready, depending on the locale.

Some jurisdictions with a bit less of a “convinced” mindset towards climate change do, however, have a lot of legal loopholes in place regarding renewable energy, but at least making structures ready to switch power when the law allows is something to breath easy about (literally).

2. Lowered Emissions

As touched on in the intro, limited travel and social distancing have been large parts of increased air quality across the globe. Even NASA satellites have produced photographic evidence of less smog in urban areas.

As many large businesses in these large cities are becoming aware of the positive effects (both socially and monetarily) of corporate social responsibility, it’s also reasonable to think that many corporations will take into account all of the positives that come with remote work, and maximize opportunities do so in a world where going green is as good for the trees as it is the bottom line.

3. Moral Awareness / Disaster Relief

Most natural disasters affect those who can actually see the destruction first-hand much more deeply than people who just see pictures and videos. With a truly global pandemic affecting everyone on Earth, the overall will to “help a neighbor” has been tried and true during the COVID-19 wave. Some places just had much better disaster preparedness practices than others, and where there were shortages in one area, and excess in another, the right moves were made.

Only time will tell if optimism turns to reality, but thinking that the global reach of this disaster and the “all in this together” mantra will lead to more disaster relief for issues some people may not be familiar with (hurricanes, tornados, famine, earthquakes, etc.) is definitely beyond reasonable.

4. Clean Beaches

Over the last 10 years, roughly 60 million Americans visit a beach per year. Couple that with coastal population booms, and it’s safe to say the sand in the United States gets a lot of foot traffic. Though the lack of tourism certainly hurt the economy, it gave the beaches a long overdue break, resulting in massive decreases in coastal pollution, deep beach cleans by locals, and increases in water quality.

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5. A Little Bad with the Good

With closures of schools and a lot of work places, brought with it closures of some recycling centers, resulting in a lot of recyclables being trashed. The increases in online deliveries are certainly sensible, but they, too, added to an uptick in waste production, due to packaging. Additionally, medical waste (including masks and gloves) experienced a steady uptick as well.

Ultimately, the environmental effects of COVID-19 are things we can take a bit of resolve in, as pretty much everything else has been affected negatively by the pandemic. Increases in air and water quality should continue to be steady, new infrastructure with renewable resources now exist and just need some legislative boosts in areas, a lot of public places that needed a good cleaning have gotten it, and the only negatives on this list involve human actions that can be adjusted, moving forward.

Applications of Biochar

Biochar is a carbon-rich, fine-grained residue which can be produced either by ancient techniques (such as covering burning biomass with soil and allowing it to smoulder) or state-of-the-art modern biomass pyrolysis processes. Combustion and decomposition of woody biomass and agricultural residues results in the emission of a large amount of carbon dioxide. Biochar can store this CO2 in the soil leading to reduction in GHGs emission and enhancement of soil fertility. Biochar holds the promise to tackle chronic human development issues like hunger and food insecurity, low agricultural productivity and soil depletion, deforestation and biodiversity loss, energy poverty, water pollution, air pollution and climate change. Let us have a close look at some of the most promising applications of biochar.

 

Use of biochar in animal farming

At present approx. 90% of the biochar used in Europe goes into animal farming. Different to its application to fields, a farmer will notice its effects within a few days. Whether used in feeding, litter or in slurry treatment, a farmer will quickly notice less smell. Used as a feed supplement, the incidence of diarrhoea rapidly decreases, feed intake is improved, allergies disappear, and the animals become calmer.

In Germany, researchers conducted a controlled experiment in a dairy that was experiencing a number of common health problems: reduced performance, movement disorder, fertility disorders, inflammation of the urinary bladder, viscous salivas, and diarrhoea. Animals were fed different combinations of charcoal, sauerkraut juice or humic acids over periods of 4 to 6 weeks.

Experimenters found that oral application of charcoal (from 200 to 400 g/day), sauerkraut juice and humic acids influenced the antibody levels to C. botulinum, indicating reduced gastrointestinal neurotoxin burden. They found that when the feed supplements were ended, antibody levels increased, indicating that regular feeding of charcoal and other supplements had a tonic effect on cow health.

Biochar as soil conditioner

In certain poor soils (mainly in the tropics), positive effects on soil fertility were seen when applying untreated biochar. These include the higher capacity of the soil to store water, aeration of the soil and the release of nutrients through raising the soil’s pH-value. In temperate climates, soils tend to have humus content of over 1.5%, meaning that such effects only play a secondary role.

Indeed, fresh biochar may adsorb nutrients in the soil, causing at least in the short and medium term – a negative effect on plant growth. These are the reasons why in temperate climates biochar should only be used when first loaded with nutrients and when the char surfaces have been activated through microbial oxidation.

The best method of loading nutrients is to co-compost the char. This involves adding 10–30% biochar (by volume) to the biomass to be composted. Co-composting improves both the biochar and the compost. The resulting compost can be used as a highly efficient substitute for peat in potting soil, greenhouses, nurseries and other special cultures.

Because biochar serves as a carrier for plant nutrients, it can produce organic carbon-based fertilizers by mixing biochar with such organic waste as wool, molasses, ash, slurry and pomace. These are at least as efficient as conventional fertilizers, and have the advantage of not having the well-known adverse effects on the ecosystem. Such fertilizers prevent the leaching of nutrients, a negative aspect of conventional fertilizers. The nutrients are available as and when the plants need them. Through the stimulation of microbial symbiosis, the plant takes up the nutrients stored in the porous carbon structure and on its surfaces.
A range of organic chemicals are produced during pyrolysis. Some of these remain stuck to the pores and surfaces of the biochar and may have a role in stimulating a plant’s internal immune system, thereby increasing its resistance to pathogens. The effect on plant defence mechanisms was mainly observed when using low temperature biochars (pyrolysed at 350° to 450°C). This potential use is, however, only just now being developed and still requires a lot of research effort.

Biochar as construction material

The two interesting properties of biochar are its extremely low thermal conductivity and its ability to absorb water up to 6 times its weight. These properties mean that biochar is just the right material for insulating buildings and regulating humidity. In combination with clay, but also with lime and cement mortar, biochar can be added to clay at a ratio of up to 50% and replace sand in lime and cement mortars. This creates indoor plasters with excellent insulation and breathing properties, able to maintain humidity levels in a room at 45–70% in both summer and winter. This in turn prevents not just dry air, which can lead to respiratory disorders and allergies, but also dampness and air condensing on the walls, which can lead to mould developing.

As per study by the Ithaka Institute’s biochar-plaster wine cellar and seminar rooms in the Ithaka Journal. Such biochar-mud plaster adsorbs smells and toxins, a property not just benefiting smokers. Biochar-mud plasters can improve working conditions in libraries, schools, warehouses, factories and agricultural buildings.

Biochar is an efficient adsorber of electromagnetic radiation, meaning that biochar-mud plaster can prevent “electrosmog”. Biochar can also be applied to the outside walls of a building by jet-spray technique mixing it with lime. Applied at thicknesses of up to 20 cm, it is a substitute for Styrofoam insulation. Houses insulated this way become carbon sinks, while at the same time having a more healthy indoor climate. Should such a house be demolished at a later date, the biochar-mud or biochar-lime plaster can be recycled as a valuable compost additive.

Biochar as decontaminant

As a soil additive for soil remediation – for use in particular on former mine-works, military bases and landfill sites.

Soil substrates – Highly adsorbing and effective for plantation soil substrates for use in cleaning wastewater; in particular urban wastewater contaminated by heavy metals.

A barrier preventing pesticides getting into surface water – berms around fields and ponds can be equipped with 30-50 cm deep barriers made of bio-char for filtering out pesticides.

Treating pond and lake water – bio-char is good for adsorbing pesticides and fertilizers, as well as for improving water aeration.

Use of biochar in wastewater treatment – Our Project

The biochar grounded to a particle size of less than 1.5 mm and surface area of 600 – 1000 m2/g. The figure below is the basic representation of production of bio-char for wastewater treatment.

We conducted a study for municipal wastewater which was obtained from a local municipal treatment plant. The municipal wastewater was tested for its physicochemical parameters including pH, chemical oxygen demand (COD), total suspended solids (TSS), total phosphates (TP) and total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) using the APHA (2005) standard methods.

Bio filtration of the municipal wastewater with biochar acting as the bio adsorbent was allowed to take place over a 5 day period noting the changes in the wastewater parameters. The municipal wastewater and the treated effluent physicochemical.

The COD concentration in the municipal wastewater decreased by 90% upon treatment with bio-char. The decrease in the COD was attributed to the enhanced removal of bio contaminants as they were passed through the bio char due to the bio char’s adsorption properties as well as the high surface area of the bio char. An 89% reduction in the TSS was observed as the bio filtration process with bio char increased from one day to five days

The TKN concentration in the wastewater decreased by 64% upon treatment with bio char as a bio filter. The TP in the wastewater decreased by 78% as the bio filtration time with bio char increase. The wastewater pH changed from being alkaline to neutral during the treatment with bio char over the 5 day period

Use in Textiles

In Japan and China bamboo-based bio-chars are already being woven into textiles to gain better thermal and breathing properties and to reduce the development of odours through sweat. The same aim is pursued through the inclusion of bio-char in shoe soles and socks.

Waste Management Scenario in Oman

Waste management is a challenging issue for the Sultanate of Oman due to high waste generation rates and scarcity of disposal sites. With population of almost 3 million inhabitants, the country produced about 1.6 million tons of solid waste in 2010. The per capita waste generation is more than 1.5 kg per day, among the highest worldwide.

Oman_Solid_Wastes_Management

Solid waste in Oman is characterized by very high percentage of recyclables, primarily paper (26%), plastics (12%), metals (11%) and glass (5%). However the country is yet to realize the recycling potential of its municipal waste stream. Most of the solid waste is sent to authorized and unauthorized dumpsites for disposal which is creating environment and health issues. There are several dumpsites which are located in the midst of residential areas or close to catchment areas of private and public drinking water bodies.

Solid waste management scenario in marked by lack of collection and disposal facilities. Solid waste, industrial waste, e-wastes etc are deposited in very large number of landfills scattered across the country. Oman has around 350 landfills/dumpsites which are managed by municipalities. In addition, there are numerous unauthorized dumpsites in Oman where all sorts of wastes are recklessly dumped.

Al Amerat landfill is the first engineered sanitary landfill in Oman which began its operations in early 2011. The landfill site, spread over an area of 9.6 hectares, consists of 5 cells with a total capacity of 10 million m3 of solid waste and spread over an area of over 9.6 hectares. Each cell has 16 shafts to take care of leachate (contaminated wastewater). All the shafts are interconnected, and will help in moving leachate to the leachate pump. The project is part of the government’s initiatives to tackle solid waste in a scientific and environment-friendly manner. Being the first of its kind, Al Amerat sanitary landfill is expected to be an example for the future solid waste management projects in the country.

Solid waste management is among the top priorities of Oman government which has chalked out a robust strategy to resolve waste management problem in the Sultanate. The country is striving to establish engineered landfills, waste transfer stations, recycling projects and waste-to-energy facilities in different parts of the country.

Modern MSW management facilities are under planning in several wilayat, especially Muscat and Salalah. The new landfills will eventually pave the way for closure of authorized and unauthorized garbage dumps around the country. However investments totaling Omani Rial 2.5 billion are required to put this waste management strategy into place.

The state-owned Oman Environment Services Holding Company (OESHCO), which is responsible for waste management projects in Oman, has recently started the tendering process for eight important projects. OESHCO has invited tenders from specialised companies for an engineered landfill and material recovery facility in Barka, apart from advisory services for 29 transfer stations and a couple of tenders for waste management services in the upcoming Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Duqm, among others. Among the top priorities is that development of Barka engineered landfill as the existing Barka waste disposal site, which serve entire wilayat and other neighbouring wilayats in south Batinah governorate, is plagued by environmental and public health issues.

3 Tips For Designing Your Home To Promote Cleaner, Safer Air Quality Indoors

While much of the focus has been on the damage air pollution can do, it turns out the air within our homes maybe even more detrimental. Last year’s Clean Air Day campaign showed that particle pollution levels are a staggering 3.5 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. With the average person spending 93 percent of their lives indoors, every effort must be made to promote clean, safe indoor air quality – including when it comes to designing homes. Designing a home that promotes good indoor air quality not only encourages better health for you and your family but can save you money on heating costs in the long run.

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Control Outdoor Sources Of Air Pollution With Minimal Cracks, Leaks Or Uncontrolled Openings

A large determinant of indoor air quality is the transmission of outdoor pollution into the home. In an Indoor Quality Survey by UCL, nitrogen dioxide accounted for 84 percent of the variations in air quality. Nitrogen Dioxide is linked to asthma attacks and is majorly attributed to traffic emissions. The report went on to highlight just how important a role the airtight design of a building plays in maintaining optimal air quality. When designing an airtight home, ensuring there is adequate insulation and choosing the right insulation material is important.

New home builders can also benefit from new construction methods like insulation within the home’s frame or the use of structural insulated panels. Final checks for unsealed leaks or cracks should also be done. However, homeowners and contractors should also keep in mind that ventilation is also just as paramount in maintaining good indoor air quality. Therefore, the inclusion of ventilation points, such as appropriately placed windows, should be kept in mind.

Ensure You Have An Effective Ventilation System Design And Components In Place

A carefully designed ventilation system ensures that there is a free flow of air throughout the home and that any internal pollutants are flushed out. Ventilation is also important in the prevention and control of mold spores, which can have a large and potentially toxic impact on indoor air quality. Since molds thrive in humid or moist environments, proper ventilation can prevent their growth and the resulting health complications of mold exposure, such as the triggering of asthma symptoms or lung infections.

When designing your home’s ventilation system, you will want a contractor that is experienced and an NICEIC approved ventilation installer for the installation. In addition to adhering to building regulations, be sure to include mechanical switches or CO2 powered sensors for your MVHR unit so the speed can adapt according to changing conditions, such as seasons of the year. You should also consider the air filter size: larger filters allow for greater airflow, but those made with a thinner material can come with an extended life and dust loading abilities.

Choose Non-Toxic Building Materials And Furnishings For Your Home

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are one of the leading types of indoor air pollution and commonly stem from certain liquids or substances such as paint varnishes, building materials, and the finishes on indoor furniture. Research has also shown that concentrations of VOCs can be up to 10 times higher indoors than they are outdoors. Exposure to VOCs can result in both long and short term health complications, including headaches, skin conditions and liver damage.

To avoid this, homeowners can opt for chemical-free building materials such as formaldehyde-free boarding, Rockwool for insulation, and low VOC paints for painting and interior designs. When it comes to furnishing, choose second-hand furniture over new. Preowned furniture is more likely to emit lower levels of VOC when you buy them, since they stop emitting VOC after the first few initial years. As a bonus, it is much easier on your home design budget.

With so much time being spent in our homes, it makes sense that homeowners would want to design a home that is as safe as possible, including the indoor air quality. Incorporating simple hacks like these into your home design process can help you design the home of your dreams – and a healthy one at that.

Can You Recycle Summer Pool Inflatables?

Over the last few years, having pools in our gardens has become hugely popular with both kids and adults alike. Which has also meant that summer pool inflatables – particularly large dinosaurs or unicorns – have become popular too. The only problem is, when these plastic inflatables are no longer wanted, what happens to them?

What are Pool Inflatables?

First off, before we look at how to recycle these pool inflatables, what exactly are they? Well, like the name suggest, these are plastic inflatables that tend to be used in pools. These can range from very big inflatables that can be sat on, down to inflatables used for sports such as balls or clubs.

summer-pool-inflatables

There tends to be new inflatable design and shapes that come out every summer, which becomes popular on the likes of Instagram. This leads to people rushing to buy what’s popular and old inflatables becoming binned.

What are Pool Inflatables Made of and Can They Be Recycled?

When it comes to the cheap pool inflatables that we often see in the likes of Aldi and Argos, these toys ten to be made from nylon or vinyl, they will then be coated in a PVC material that makes them very durable.

Because of this PVC coating, though, it makes it very hard to recycle these inflatables. Which is why broken or unwanted pool toys end up going into our general bins, which are destined for a landfill. Which isn’t great when we’re trying to recycle as much as we can.

What Can You Do With Old or Unwanted Pool Inflatables?

Well, before you stop buying pool inflatables altogether, here at KwikSweep we have some great ideas for how you can keep your inflatables away from landfills:

Repair It

More often than not, when we’re looking to get rid of a pool inflatable it’s because it’s damaged and we believe it be unusable. Which can be quite common when they’re used by kids – and adults too! Before you get rid of your pool inflatable, though, it’s actually very easy to repair these inflatables.

First of all, you need to find where the hole or rip is. This is quite easy to do, just fill the inflatable up with water and see where water or bubbles are escaping. Once you’ve located the hole add a sticker, then you can empty the water out and dry out the inflatable before you look to fix it.

When you’re ready to start your repair, inflate it with air and cover the hole with some duct tape to keep the air in. You can then take a piece of PVC or more tape and cover it with some waterproof glue and place over the top of the hole and held until dry. Just remember to check it thoroughly before giving it back to the kids.

Give it Away

If pool inflatable isn’t broken, but it is no longer wanted. Rather than throwing it away, consider giving it away to someone you know or even donating it to charity. That way, rather than simply throwing it away, someone else will be able to get use out of it.

Upcycle It

While pool inflatables are hard to recycle, they may still be of use to others that could use the material in an upcycle project. For this, you will have to research locally to see if anyone wants to work with old PVC, which can seem like hard work, however, it’s more than worth it to keep it out of landfills.

If you’re worried about any of your rubbish going to landfills and you’d like to make sure as much as possible is recycled, contact us here at KwikSweep. As, regardless of it being commercial or home clearances, we make sure as much is kept away from landfills as possible.

Sustainable Environment in Singapore: An Attraction for Businesses and Investors

In addition to a robust economy, Singapore’s sustainable environment is another leading factor that has attracted numerous investors. Most cities in the world have failed to address environmental issues brought about by urbanization. Towns or urban areas cover over 2% of the Earth’s surface; they are responsible for about 80% of the greenhouse gases emitted while using up almost 75%  of nature’s resources.

sustainable-Singapore

However, a host of countries in Southeast Asia are leading the way to change this contrary notion about cities and urban regions. Research conducted by several world-leading environmental bodies and institutions determined that Singapore is indeed one of the most environmentally sustainable nations.

Singapore’s first prime minister kickstarted the dream of making Singapore a green city. His main agenda was to make Singapore stand out from the rest of the Asian countries and also attract investors from all over the world. The first step undertaken to achieve this dream was the eradication of the houseboats and overcrowded slums along the banks of Singapore River.

Incorporation services Singapore are offering entrepreneurs moving to Singapore a platform to incorporate their businesses in Singapore. This allows them to run their firms within the stipulated terms while also receive the government’s backing.

On the world’s Environmental Performance Ranking, Yale University and the U.N place Singapore at seventeenth globally and first position in Asia. Contrary to popular belief, Singapore’s efforts and strict green technology guidelines, which were set and backed up by the government, helped in making it an eco-friendly city.  

So how exactly does Singapore afford to provide suitable surroundings perfect for its citizens and also attract investors and entrepreneurs from overseas?

Government Support

As discussed before, adoption of green technology is one of the leading things that has made Singapore an eco-friendly city. Singapore has been able to morph into a modernized city-state without having a negative impact on nature.

The Singapore government’s Cleantech division, which is a subsidiary of the board tasked with economic growth, has offered continued support to companies in the clean technology business. This has led to the business sector growing tremendously in areas such as renewable energy, water conservation, green buildings, etc.

Growing ICT Center

Companies such as Hewlett Packard (HP) and International Business Machines Corporation have partnered with the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. The main idea behind these partnerships is to ensure that Singapore’s ICT industry thrives. HP, for example, has been tasked with designing and manufacturing energy efficient systems that will cut power costs while still providing a working platform for businesses.

There is no shortage of green spaces in Singapore

Low Energy Costs and Environmental Remedies

Accommodating over 7000 companies from different nations across the globe is no mean feat. As such, Singapore’s government and other agencies know that a green environment is not the only requirement to attract more investors.

Through an alliance known as the Singapore Sustainability Alliance, an umbrella consisting of government groups, non-governmental organizations, and teaching institutions, Singapore has been able to come up with policies that create a sustainable environment. Other than this, the alliance has overseen the adoption of systems that include proper water use, renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, etc. which have significantly improved business growth.  

Building More Sustainable Home Habits

Running a household can be a very expensive feat – everything you spend from your electricity, water, heating, air-conditioning, groceries, and general upkeep of other facilities such as your toilet, piping, pool (if you have one) – these all add up and can make your expenditures quite hefty, especially when left unchecked. If you are running a large household, with anywhere from five people living in it or more, this could be especially true – the aggregate effect of every person’s possible carelessness can add up to a sizable sum when put together.

That is why it has become increasingly important to incorporate sustainable habits in every household. This means to educate each person on the importance of being prudent with the resources of the household, enough so that what is used up is only what is needed, and not a single resource and penny goes to waste. If everyone is on the same page about how important it is to care for the environment, then the combined benefits of this paradigm shift can also be quite notable.

sustainable-habits-for-ecofriendly-home

Here are some ways to build more sustainable habits in your home:

1. Turn off the lights

The best thing to do is to keep your consumption minimal. Turn off the lights when you are exiting your room and do not plan to re-enter for a good amount of time. Use natural light when you can – it is good to have windows in every part of the home so you can utilize natural energy. Apart from the natural light, you can also let in some wind and fresh air instead of turning on your air-conditioning.

2. Turn off the tap

Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. Unless you are rinsing off, you don’t need the tap running. You can even fill a cup with water and use that for your gargling needs.

3. Pull those plugs

Pull the plugs for appliances that aren’t in active use for a long time. Toasters, computers, and lamps are all good examples of appliances that can be unplugged overnight or while you’re away from home.

4. Analyze your electric bills

It would also be a good thing to check out your energy consumption and consult your electricity provider for things you may not understand in your electricity bill. You can take this up with them and clarify what items are taking up most of your consumption, so you can adjust accordingly and minimize those activities.

5. Recycle

You don’t have to throw away everything that you’ve used only once or twice. Plastic containers that you take home from retail or grocery purchases can be used for repacking other items in the home. This is just one example – there are so many things you and your family use daily that you can recycle in order to minimize what you throw away.

recycle-household-trash

These are just some of the simple but very helpful ways you can start to live a more sustainable lifestyle. There are many other ways you can build more sustainable habits that help the planet and help you save some money as well. It is good to instill these practices within all the members of your household so that you can all work together to be more clean and green.

The Eco Revolution in Property Investment

Many of us are now making more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious decisions every day. Whether it’s taking our own carrier bags to the shops, having a reusable water bottle or recycling your tin cans – little changes are making a big impact. When it comes to property, the eco revolution has increasingly been making waves. From solar panels to energy efficient light bulbs, our properties are becoming better for the planet. These priorities are also affecting property investment, with an increasing number of tenants looking for eco-friendly essentials in their property.

Eco-friendly homes are becoming increasingly popular with a new environmentally conscious generation starting to look for rental properties. Young professionals who are living in the city are less likely to buy a home than ever before, so are looking for a rental property that meets their exacting requirements. With many of them choosing to make environmentally friendly choices, like going plastic free or cutting down on how much meat they eat, accordingly they are looking for eco-friendly homes too.

Environmental impact is increasingly on the agenda of consumers in every aspect of their lives. Many are also willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly purchases. Research has shown that UK consumers would pay an average 10% more if they were buying something they thought had a positive impact on society. Property investors would be wise to bear this in mind when looking for new property investments. In an increasingly competitive rental market, the ability to raise prices because of eco credentials is a lucrative option for investors.

Furthermore, 40% of consumers think that sustainability is important when they are making a purchase. The impact of this can be seen in the growing number of brands and businesses that are making their environmental commitments obvious to consumers. It is clear that savvy property investors can be both environmentally friendly and business smart when looking to purchase new properties.

In another study, 80% of tenants believed that their landlords should be considering the environment more, and suggested measures like double-glazing, insulation and eco-modifications. These simple measures can make a large impact on the appeal of a property to prospective tenants. Increasing energy prices are another concern for occupants. In addition, 55% of renters asked said they would prefer a rental property with a smart meter if it was the same price. Energy efficient measures are both good for tenant’s monthly costs and for the environment so buy to let property investors can be at an advantage if their property offers these.

As of April 2018, buy to let landlords are legally required to have an EPC rating of E or above in their properties. This means that property investors are increasingly looking at new build properties which are already energy efficient and don’t require costly renovations. Tenants can also legally request that a landlord makes property improvements if the EPC rating is F or G.

Developers are increasingly taking sustainability and environmental impact into consideration when building new properties. Properties with energy efficient specifications, like many by RW Invest  are providing investors with lucrative returns and high tenant demand. Recent changes to regulation mean that new build properties need to be energy efficient and this is making a huge impact on the buy to let market.

The trend towards environmentally conscious properties looks set to continue, with eco-friendly qualities high on the agenda of both potential tenants and investors.

An Introduction to Composting

The composting process is a complex interaction between organic waste and microorganisms. The microorganisms that carry out this process fall into three groups: bacteria, fungi, and actinomycetesActinomycetes are a form of fungi-like bacteria that break down organic matter. The first stage of the biological activity is the consumption of easily available sugars by bacteria, which causes a fast rise in temperature. The second stage involves bacteria and actinomycetes that cause cellulose breakdown. The last stage is concerned with the breakdown of the tougher lignins by fungi.

Composting_Process

Central solutions are exemplified by low-cost composting without forced aeration, and technologically more advanced systems with forced aeration and temperature feedback. Central composting plants are capable of handling more than 100,000 tons of biodegradable waste per year, but typically the plant size is about 10,000 to 30,000 tons per year. Biodegradable wastes must be separated prior to composting: Only pure food waste, garden waste, wood chips, and to some extent paper are suitable for producing good-quality compost.

Composting Equipment

The composting plants consist of some or all of the following technical units: bag openers, magnetic and/or ballistic separators, screeners (sieves), shredders, mixing and homogenization equipment, turning equipment, irrigation systems, aeration systems, draining systems, bio-filters, scrubbers, control systems, and steering systems. The composting process occurs when biodegradable waste is piled together with a structure allowing for oxygen diffusion and with a dry matter content suiting microbial growth.

Biodegradable wastes must be separated prior to composting: Only pure food waste, garden waste, wood chips, and to some extent paper are suitable for producing good-quality compost.The temperature of the biomass increases due to the microbial activity and the insulation properties of the piled material. The temperature often reaches 65 to 75 degrees C within few days and then declines slowly. This high temperature hastens the elimination of pathogens and weed seeds.

Composting Methodologies

The methodology of composting can be categorized into three major segments—anaerobic composting, aerobic composting, and vermicomposting. In anaerobic composting, the organic matter is decomposed in the absence of air. Organic matter may be collected in pits and covered with a thick layer of soil and left undisturbed six to eight months. The compost so formed may not be completely converted and may include aggregated masses.

Aerobic composting is the process by which organic wastes are converted into compost or manure in presence of air and can be of different types. The most common is the Heap Method, where organic matter needs to be divided into three different types and to be placed in a heap one over the other, covered by a thin layer of soil or dry leaves. This heap needs to be mixed every week, and it takes about three weeks for conversion to take place. The process is same in the Pit Method, but carried out specially constructed pits. Mixing has to be done every 15 days, and there is no fixed time in which the compost may be ready.

Berkley Method uses a labor-intensive technique and has precise requirements of the material to be composted. Easily biodegradable materials, such as grass, vegetable matter, etc., are mixed with animal matter in the ratio of 2:1. Compost is usually ready in 15 days.

Vermicomposting involves use of earthworms as natural and versatile bioreactors for the process of conversion. It is carried out in specially designed pits where earthworm culture also needs to be done. Vermicomposting is a precision-based option and requires overseeing of work by an expert. It is also a more expensive option (O&M costs especially are high).