Green Living

Does your kitchen feel cramped, out of style, and just overall not right? If so, it might be time to consider remodeling. This year, 76% of renovating homeowners will be giving their kitchen a makeover, making it the second most popular type of home renovation. And not only can a minor kitchen remodel make your kitchen area feel more welcoming and stylish, but it can also have an average ROI of 82.7%. One of the great things about remodeling is having the opportunity to do so in an eco-friendly way — there are so many options for eco-friendly products and they can make you feel good about going green while making your kitchen look pretty at the same time. To give you some ideas for an eco-friendly kitchen makeover, we’ve compiled a few ways to choose eco-friendly materials and features.

When it comes to choosing eco-friendly materials, you’ll have plenty of options. Bamboo, cork, and recycled stone materials are great options to use in the kitchen. Bamboo can be used for flooring, backsplashes, cabinets, and even for cooking items like utensils and cutting boards because it’s such a versatile material. Cork is also becoming a popular material used in kitchens for flooring. Due to its sound-absorbing and water-resistant properties, it makes a great option for flooring or decor. And for countertops, choosing recycled stone can be a great way to get a beautiful, durable surface without the high cost to both your bank account and the environment. Overall, there are plenty of eco-friendly material options to explore for every aspect of your kitchen.

Water conservation is another aspect of eco-friendly remodeling to explore. On average, each American uses about 88 gallons of water in their home every single day. If you’re looking for ways to reduce your water use at home, start with your appliances. If you have older appliances, chances are that they don’t have water-saving or energy-saving options. But by looking into newer, energy-efficient appliances, especially dishwashers, you can significantly reduce the amount of water you use in your home. While investing in new appliances may be more expensive upfront, the cost will pay off in the long-run.

And last but not least, you should consider what kind of lighting you’re using in your kitchen. Oftentimes, the kitchen is one room in the house that’s almost always using light. From cooking to doing homework to entertaining, kitchens see a lot of use. This is why it’s important to ensure you’re using energy-efficient lighting. LED lighting and halogen lighting can significantly reduce the amount of energy you’re using for lighting. While it may not seem like it has a big effect, lighting is one of the highest uses of energy. This is especially true in houses where lights tend to get left on overnight and when no one is home. Seeing as how the total use of energy in the U.S. in 2016 alone amounted to about 97.4 quadrillion BTUs, it’s important to reduce energy use whenever possible. By switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and fixtures, you can ensure you’re using as little energy as possible while still providing sufficient lighting.

Even if you make just a few small changes to your kitchen to give it a new look, it’s important to keep eco-friendly options in mind. These are just a few ideas to get you started on making your kitchen, and your home, as environmentally-friendly as possible.


Everyone is concerned with where the world is going to end up from an environmental standpoint, and how the actions of human beings are negatively impactful. Many people have taken up earth-friendly initiatives and have begun finding ways to better the planet.

One way, in particular, has been to use hemp to create products that are eco-friendly and sustainable, creating a greener path for the human race. There are many uses for hemp, and since it is a natural product, all are earth-friendly.

Here are just a few ways that hemp can be used for green living.

Potential Biofuel

Long past are the days of vegetable oil-based fuel; here comes the future of biofuel with hemp. Hemp biofuel can be turned into diesel with relative ease, and it burns at a much more efficient temperature and rate, making it a viable source of renewable energy. It might not be widely available yet, but with more awareness and support, it could be the next breakthrough that could save the planet.

Prevent Deforestation

One of the biggest problems facing humanity and the planet as a whole is the startling rate at which the forests are disappearing. With an incredibly high dependence on products that derive from trees, deforestation has become a significant issue. The answer? Hemp. Hemp provides a fast-growing alternative to wood and paper products, with one acre of hemp producing as much paper as four acres of trees.

Easier to Farm

Agricultural hemp is similar to bamboo and can reach heights of 10 to 15 feet before harvest, and it doesn’t require pesticides to fight off pests. The reduced use of pesticides would directly help eliminate pollution. Hemp crops also enrich the soil by removing toxins and improving the overall quality of the soil and doesn’t need much water to survive — which would cut down on water consumption as well. Since hemp helps the soil, it also makes it an ideal crop for farmers to rotate.

Food and Products

Besides being a sustainable crop, hemp can be used to create numerous different types of products, including food. Hemp seeds are extremely nutritious and provide significant health benefits. Hemp is naturally high in amino acids and essential fatty acids, which can be important to the world’s starving population. Hemp can also be used to make pet food, pet bedding, body oils and lotions, oil-based products, clothing, plastic alternatives, and more.

Hemp provides a way to live greener without compromising the luxuries and lifestyles people have become accustomed to. However, the possibilities for “going green” don’t end there. There are so many ways to adopt a green-living lifestyle.

There are 1,200 miles of sandy beaches across Florida’s 1,800 miles of coastline. Unfortunately, every inch of that terrific landscape is at risk of being damaged by a massive hurricane… again.

Last year’s Hurricane Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. It was a Category 5 storm with intense 185 MPH winds for 37 hours straight. As Florida residents begin to protect their properties from the upcoming storms that are expected during the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season, they are still recovering from last year’s damage.

According to The Washington Post, scientists are pointing to an environmental factor that may have made Irma’s impact on Florida even worse: the ongoing loss of coral along the historic Florida Reef.

The Florida Reef is among the world’s largest coal reefs, stretching out more than 160 miles. But the reef has been in trouble for a while now, as less than 10% of the entire reef is covered with living coral due to back-to-back bleaching events and warming waters.

Now, scientists are worried that these reef issues will have a direct result on Florida’s ability to buffer major storms.

“If you reduce coral reef health — if you go from that really rough coral reef with lots of live coral to a degraded coral reef with a relatively smooth surface — you have increased run-up in flooding,” said Curt Storlazzi, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “The science indicates that had coral reefs been healthier across the Caribbean (including the Florida reef track), the resulting wave-driven run-up and coastal flooding of areas fronted by coral reefs would have been less than did occur (due to the current degraded nature of the coral reefs).”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.N Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have also pointed out the ability for coral reefs to buffer storms and reduce flooding. One meta-analysis by Storlazzi and Michael Beck, lead marine scientist at the Nature Conservancy (as well as colleagues from Stanford), compiled more than 250 individual studies, which suggested that coral reefs could reduce the energy of incoming storm waves by as much as 97%.

“The main effect of coral reefs on flood reduction, period, is because of wave breaking,” Beck added. “It’s acting like a submerged breakwater offshore, breaking those waves, reducing and dissipating that wave energy offshore, so that then only tiny little amounts of wave energy come onshore.”

It hasn’t just been storm damage that has negatively impacted the reef, either. According to Oceans Deeply, a mysterious but persistent disease has been significantly damaging coral reefs alongside Florida since 2014. The pathogen damages coral tissue and it’s projected that between 60% and 100% of corals on certain reefs have been compromised. But the hurricane damage has been much more boisterous.

Divers have been measuring the damage of last year’s storm alongside the reef and deemed 14% of the sites a Tier 1, which means severe impact has occurred and it should be immediately ruled a top priority for stabilize ation, 33% were Tier 2 (moderate damage), and 53% only suffered minimal harm after Irma and other powerful storms.

“It was crucial to get a fast yet detailed assessment of reef condition,” added Jennifer Stein, the Nature Conservancy’s Marine conservation Coordinator and chief scientist on a multi-partner research team. “Under normal circumstances, coral reefs can recover from hurricanes, but the Florida Tract reef was already stressed from bleaching and disease. Irma was a record setting Category 4 hurricane, packing winds up to 130 mpg when its eye crossed the Florida Keys. Given these factors, we had no idea what to expect.”

Thankfully, plenty of sites alongside the reef were covered by a thick layer of sediment, keeping the coral cover underneath healthy and strong. Those healthy areas will actually start to replenish the other areas that suffered severe damage. In order to expedite this much-needed reef recovery process, a rescue mission financed by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has begun to physically repair the reefs.

“After a destructive event like a hurricane, it’s much more efficient for us to swoop in and save injured but otherwise viable corals, than plant new nursery-grown ones,” added Tom Moore, NOAA’s Team Leader for Coral Reef Restoration.

Going green used to be considered a time-consuming commitment, forcing families to give up their comfortable convenience in order to save the planet. But now, it’s easier than ever to substitute sustainable products in your everyday life. While the size of the average American home has nearly tripled over the past 50 years, you don’t necessarily have to give up your spacious homestead to reduce your carbon footprint significantly. By starting with just one room — in this case, the kitchen — you may be able to make a huge difference in your energy consumption and give back to the earth. And you won’t even need to use Rise Credit loans to do it.

Start Small

You don’t necessarily have to go all-out to go green. Small switches are a great place to start; you likely won’t notice much of a difference in your experience, but you’ll be secure in the knowledge that these alternatives are better for the environment. For instance, changing out your existing light bulbs for LEDs, opting for compostable trash bags and biodegradable cleansing wipes, and making sure to recycle and compost won’t represent any kind of sacrifice for you — but these efforts can lead to a more eco-conscious lifestyle. Even making sure to fill the dishwasher up all the way before running it or keeping a small herb garden outside the kitchen window can benefit your bills and the planet.

Rethink Appliances

Of course, energy efficient appliances are preferred here. Not only are they better for the environment, but they’re better for your monthly bills as well. But it’s not just the big-ticket items you’ll need to consider. Smaller appliances can eat up a lot of energy too (if you leave them plugged in all the time). And if you rely on your Keurig for your morning jolt of caffeine, consider making the switch to reusable filters to keep the K-Cups out of landfills. Going green doesn’t have to mean going without; sometimes, we just need to be more mindful about our choices.

Install New Floors

If your kitchen floors could use an upgrade and you’re up for making a bigger change, you might want to consider taking on this renovation. Not only will it add more value to the space, but it can be a long-term step towards eco-friendliness. Linoleum, for example, is made from renewable raw materials and is made with no artificial chemicals. It can also last for 40 years or longer if properly maintained. Sustainable hardwood floors are also an option, as are natural stone tiles. These options don’t require a lot of maintenance (though you should make sure to switch to eco-friendly cleaning products when you need to wipe up spills!) and will set the stage for a more sustainable home.

While it’s certainly possible to embrace a green lifestyle by making big changes in your home, you don’t have to uproot your entire way of life to be more eco-friendly. These simple changes in your kitchen can help your family preserve our precious resources in a snap.

Data centers are behemoths of energy consumption, or at least in terms of raw kilowatt-hour consumption. In 2014, data centers were responsible for roughly 2% of all energy used by the United States. Still, despite massive industry growth, the ratio has not changed much.

There are several factors responsible for maintaining a relatively efficient system of sustained industry growth without exorbitant energy consumption acceleration.

First, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy says that data centers are upgrading their IT equipment every three to five years.

As part of these upgrades, data centers are able to remove multiple older machines, replacing them with one new (virtual) server.

Another factor that has been a huge help in improving the efficiency of data centers is the hyperscaling executed by high-level data companies. Amazon, IBM, Google, and their ilk are able to create the most energy-efficient server rooms and centers that are technically possible today.

Both Google and Apple are using 100% renewable energy in their hyperscale centers as well. This should be enough for past criticisms of data center waste to wither in the past, but there are still some concerns to be addressed.

Perhaps some big data centers are running at a high level of efficiency. Perhaps renewable energy will continue to be integrated into these massive data centers. But while the energy that powers data centers could eventually be fully sustainable and efficient, the resources that make the data centers are finite.

Even if hardware solutions continue to grow in capacity and shrink in size, the materials needed to build such hardware will succumb to depletion on Earth if no alternative is found. Even when fuel becomes fully renewable, rare Earth metals found in electronics never will be.

There are 60 billion emails sent every day. Of those, 97% are spam. This raises the question of digital environmentalism. Should we be so flippantly spending storage space?

Next time you create and share anything online, just remember that it all has to be stored in a server room somewhere, occupying physical, non-renewable materials.

Still, it is much more likely that we will develop new technologies in the future that allow us further optimize our online storage solutions just as we have continued to optimize data center efficiencies and energy consumption levels.

Growing plants and herbs in your own garden is one of the easiest and most effective ways to have fresh and consistent access to your favorite greens. And while many people are under the impression that outdoor garden access is required to grow and harvest effectively, they may be surprised at the number of edible plants and herbs that can be grown from start to finish completely indoors. This means that as long as you can gather a few simple supplies, you can grow some fresh herbs to add to your home cooking, regardless of how much indoor or outdoor space you’re actually working with.

The key to successful indoor gardening is to scope out the sunniest area of your home in which to keep the herbs. Plants grown indoors thrive the most when exposed to at least six hours of sunlight each day, so think about setting up your indoor garden near a window facing south or southwest. Windows facing east or west are usually adequate as well, but north facing windows just don’t get enough light. And of course, avoid setting up your herb garden near tinted windows as well; even though tinted windows save up to 40% on utility costs, they don’t let in nearly enough light to nourish an herb garden.

Without further ado, here are just a few quick and easy herbs to help you get started with your herb gardening endeavors.

Thyme

Fresh thyme is used to add flavor to countless meals, especially those of the Irish variety, like corned beef. With more than 3,000 miles of coastline, Ireland is a fantastic vacation destination, but you can bring the authentic taste of Ireland into your own cooking by growing your own fresh thyme at home. Plus, thyme has been used for centuries as an effective natural remedy for a number of common ailments.

“Thyme has long been used as an herbal remedy for respiratory problems such as bronchitis, and it also has antiseptic properties. Even better, thyme is virtually calorie-free and provides a delicious boost of flavor to soups, salads, and just about any other recipe you can think of, even champagne!” writes Rebecca Toback on Health Magazine.

When growing thyme, make sure it has plenty of sunlight.

Basil

Like thyme, basil has both holistic health and culinary benefits. It’s a good source of fiber, can help to calm your nerves, and ever has a detoxifying qualities that help to cleanse the liver. When growing basil, make sure to keep it warm enough; a cool windowsill just won’t do. Basil thrives when left to grow in temperatures in the 70s range. Fortunately, basil is relatively low maintenance, as it only needs watering every other day. When harvesting your basil, make sure to store it properly. The herb is very sensitive to low temperatures and may turn dark brown or black within a short time of exposure to temps 32 degrees or lower.

Chives

Finally, as a versatile and delicious member of the onion family, chives make a tasty and flavorful addition to nearly any dish. Chives can also help to boost the immune system, and best of all, they’re one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. They don’t require as much sunlight as other herbs; they just require enough water and room to grow. When fully grown, chives are about 18 inches tall.

“Easy to grow, onion chives pack a lot of flavor for their compact size. The plants form neat grass-like clumps of tubular leaves that contribute an onion flavor to salads, creamy soups, potatoes, egg dishes, and others. A wonderful addition to an herb garden,” writes Bonnie Plants.

According to a 2016 survey, Americans consume more fresh foods — including fruits, vegetables, meats, and cheeses — than they did three years prior. With these tips, you’ll have your indoor herb garden off to a running start!

Yosemite National Park is typically a place where people can take a walk and explore some of California’s most beautiful scenery. But following heavy rain and flooding, parts of the park quickly became a place of dangerous swimming.

According to the LA Times, a tropical storm known as a “Pineapple Express” storm dumped rain on Northern California earlier in April. The Merced River actually reached its flood stage as early as 8:00 in the morning on April 7 after the storm started April 6. More than three inches of rain covered the Yosemite Valley in a short amount of time. A whole 90% of U.S. natural disasters declared by the President involve some sort of flooding, and this may qualify under that category.

When the storm came to an end, SFGate says the Merced River came to rest four feet above flood stage at 13.73 feet. The park had been closed on April 6 just before the heaviest rainfall made its way to that part of California. It was closed all Saturday but was reopened Sunday at noon once the river settled back to its normal height. Park crews worked hard to make sure rocks, debris, and water was cleared from all roads before allowing people back into the park.

This storm was part of a larger storm that created record rainfalls in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oroville. Parts of the Bay Area saw as much as six inches of rain, which is unusual for the area. The LA Times says this storm was an example of an “atmospheric river,” which is a long strip of water vapor that is loaded with warm tropical moisture.

Officials kept a close eye on how the storm impacted Lake Oroville where a spillway that crumbled last year has been partially repaired. Officials from the California Department of Water Resources planned to open the spillway gates and release water if the lake were to rise to 830 feet. After this storm passed, sensors revealed the reservoir at 799.5 feet high. If the lake were to reach 901 feet, it would spill over

Officials and residents of the areas will be on the lookout for potentially dangerous storms and flooding in the near future. While there is no major threat at this time, it’s always a good idea to be aware and prepared. The affected parts of California are great places to live. In fact, about 27% of Americans feel that real estate is a great investment. And sunny California is a popular destination for people looking to settle down. However, for those looking to buy in the listed areas, they should be aware of potential flooding threats, just like current residents and officials are.

It’s no secret human-caused global warming has been melting ice in the Arctic sea. Yet, estimates show we may be living in an ice-free Arctic sooner than we thought.

By 2050, the Arctic Ocean will start to experience ice-free summers unless we reduce carbon dioxide emissions dramatically around the world.

According to two studies published in the journal Nature Climate Change, even a small change in global warming could make all the difference. We’re talking half-a-degree Celsius kind of change.

Celsius, or centigrade, is a temperature scale that uses 0 degrees and 100 degrees as the freezing and boiling point of water. Half a degree Celsius is less than a degree Fahrenheit. To convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, simply multiply by 1.8 and add 32.

Researchers in both studies analyzed what would happen to the Arctic if humans managed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the end of the century. The Paris Climate agreement specifically aims to keep the global warming within this century below 2 degrees Celsius.

Researchers found that these 2 degrees may be all that’s necessary to benefit the Arctic. By limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we may be able to reduce the thinning of the Arctic ice through 2100.

“Everything that happens in the climate system is connected,” said Alexandra Jahn. Jahn is the lead author of one of the global warming studies and a climate scientist at the University of Colorado.

The warming of the Arctic has the potential to impact fisheries, geopolitics, ecosystems, polar bears, and even mid-latitude weather. The loss of sea ice is also expected to escalate the effects of global warming in general.

“There’s a strongly reduced probability of experiencing ice-free summers if warming can actually be limited to one and a half degrees instead of two,” Jahn said.

Jahn’s study shows that limiting global warming by 1.5 Celsius would reduce the probability of an ice-free Arctic by 30%. Yet, limiting global warming by 1.5 degrees isn’t enough to completely stop Arctic ice from thinning.

The Arctic, Jahn says, will still experience significant ice reductions compared to today even with a 1.5-degree limitation on global warming. Unfortunately, the chances we might get a handle on fossil fuel emissions any time soon to reduce Arctic sea ice thinning aren’t favorable.

“I think we are destined for a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean,” said Mark Serreze, the direction of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The NSIDC regularly provides updates on the Arctic based on satellite monitoring data. “I don’t see that this is stoppable given our dependence on fossil fuels.”

Still, global dependence on fossil fuels doesn’t negate the benefits that could be gained by reducing global warming by lower than 2 degrees Celsius. The fewer CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere the better for the environment and for us, regardless of destiny.