Green Living

“Nothing’s built to last these days,” says my dad when I explain that I’m on my third vacuum cleaner in five years. Of course, it’s partially my fault for having 20 cats and a bad temper, but I’m not going to tell him that!

Thankfully, there are many options nowadays for dealing responsibly with our broken householdappliances. Simply throwing away your broken appliances is bad for the environment. But the truth is that broken appliances can be extremely difficult to dispose of in a safe manner. The components of many household appliances can contain hazardous materials or gases, and the many countries have strict guidelines governing their disposal. Improper disposal of household appliances is damaging to the environment and
can carry a hefty fine. So, let’s look at some other ways of responsibly dealing with your ailing appliances.

Repair It

Instead of disposing of your appliance, why not have it repaired by a reputable handyman? Many
problems with appliances are minor and the repairs are relatively inexpensive. Why buy a new appliance if the old one just needs a new wire or a simple repair? A company like Service Force, for instance, has more than 500 approved engineers and can offer free quotes online!

Even better, try not to let it get to the broken stage by having your appliance serviced on a regular basis? This may sound like a bit of a lecture, but regularly servicing and looking after your appliances is the best way to keep them running for years without any major problems. If you put in the effort, you’ll get the extra mileage.

Recycle It

Many household appliances have some parts that can be recycled. The downside? This involves not just knowing what materials make up the parts, but and having a lot of time on your hands to dismantle the appliance piece by piece. This suggestion won’t be practical for the vast majority of people, but it’s worth mentioning if you’re the type who likes taking things apart.

Return It

Many manufacturers have a system for the return and/or proper disposal of their products. Call the manufacturer of your appliance and find out if they run such a program or if they can recommend a local disposal center. Beware, however, that the cost of returning the item could be very expensive depending on the type and size of appliance. Find out if their return program includes free return shipping or local pickup.

Sell It

We are talking about broken or outdated appliances here, but you might be surprised how many people are interested buying your old junk! Of course, many of people who would be interested in buying it are also people who may know a thing or two about the appliance and may be able to salvage it or some of the parts for repairs. The bottom line: Your junk could be somebody else’s treasure. Post it on Craigslist, the Facebook Marketplace or one of the many apps available for selling local items. You might get lucky.

Donate It

Many organizations repurpose all kinds of old and broken appliances and use them for a good cause. Contact local charities and non-profit organizations to see if they have any use for your broken appliance. Do make sure they understand that the item is not functional and would need to be repaired or used for parts.

So, before you chuck out that broken down microwave or dodgy drier, have a think about the best,
most responsible option before buying new!

When it comes to tying the knot, more and more couples have been doing their best to incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable solutions into their decor and activities. However, many people are still under the impression that eco-friendliness and affordability simply don’t mix, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! There are plenty of ways to make your dream wedding come to life while keeping Mother Nature — and your wallet — in mind.

Here are just a few ways to include some eco-friendly and affordable elements into your big day.

Go Paperless

This is one of the easiest and most effective ways to cut down on wedding waste. Save-the-dates can easily be transformed into eye-catching emails that will yield just as much excitement and anticipation as traditional letters. Another common trend is for couples to make their own free website to advertise not only the details of their wedding, but their registry too. Finally, if you do choose to send out paper invitations, consider directing guests to RSVP and fill out their food options online instead of including a card to mail back. It may not seem like much, but considering the fact that 27% of Americans have no savings at all, even small steps can make a big difference in the financial and environmental costs of your wedding.

Consider An Outdoor Venue

About 35% of weddings are now outdoor occasions, and for good reason — the outdoor ambience adds something that even the best indoor venue just can’t. Choosing an outdoor venue cuts down on electricity costs, since sunlight is always free. Not to mention, the photo ops that result make a beautiful keepsake, and knowing your wedding pictures won’t look generic is even better.

Cater With Care

When discussing your catering needs, don’t automatically dismiss the idea of sourcing locally. In fact, it’s probably cheaper than you think. The Knot explains, “The farm-to-table movement is in full swing, meaning it’s more accessible than ever to source healthy, earth-friendly food. When you’re budgeting, keep in mind that organic foods may cost more, but asking your caterer to source from in-season, locally-grown products will help keep the cost down and guarantee the freshest finds.” Plus, you can inquire about sourcing your cake from a baker in your neighborhood to maintain as much freshness as possible. Foods purchased from farms tend to stay fresher longer without packaging. Plus, not as much gas will be needed to transport it.

Ultimately, keeping these eco- and budget friendly tips in mind during your wedding planning process can help you incorporate sustainable practices without costing a fortune.

From plastic pollution to carbon emissions, human activity has a profound effect on the Earth’s oceans. Of this precious ecosystem, the deep sea is perhaps the most vast. Comprising the area of the ocean below 650 feet, this region covers two-thirds of the Earth’s surface. It is undeniably significant and home to a wide array of species.

And as it turns out, we know very little about it.

new review by the University of Oxford found that there have been only 77 studies published on the population genetics of deep ocean invertebrates since 1970. This means that ocean scientists have little knowledge about the wildlife living in the deep sea, and these creatures are the ones that will be affected by human activities.

Oceans Deeply reports that Michelle Taylor, lead author of the study, said that it is “shocking” how limited researcher knowledge is.

“Unfortunately, as it is so rarely studied, we have no grasp of background diversity levels, let alone rates of species loss,” she said in a statement to Oceans Deeply. “Even conservative estimates state that we have only looked at a tiny portion of the deep sea floor.”

Animals that live closer to the surface may be easier to study and conserve. For example, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries halts the commercial harvest of blue crabs for 30 days every year. This allows populations to regenerate. But without knowledge of the reproduction and other patterns of deep sea invertebrates, scientists may not know what conservation efforts to push forward.

“I don’t know if time is running out, but certainly things are changing much faster than we can appreciate,” Lance Morgan, president of the Marine Conservation Institute and chair of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, said in a statement to Oceans Deeply. “I think we all know we’re dealing with a very data-poor environment and as a result, we don’t have a lot of confidence that what we’re doing is at all sustainable in the deep sea.”

Taylor told Oceans Deeply that commercial fishing now occurs at 2,000 meters (just over 6,500 feet) below sea level, one of the examples of how human activity is creeping deeper. So, what is the solution? More research. Scientists have only studied 5% of the ocean, making it less understood than even the farthest reaches of human exploration, Morgan told Oceans Deeply.

“We may know more about the surface of Mars and the moon than what’s going on in the deep sea.”

Taking care your lawn can not only improve your home’s curb-appeal, it can also be a great investment if you’re planning on selling in the near future. The yard is certainly considered one of the cornerstones of American home living, with 83% of Americans thinking to have one is important and 90% of those with one believing that keeping it maintained is also important. However, it is not always easy to know how to take care of a lawn, especially as the seasons change.

As fall comes upon us, it is important to know just how to keep the cornerstone of your home well-maintained. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of tips for homeowners to keep their laws healthy as the temperatures lower.

Keep Mowing, But Lower The Blades

Homeowners should continue to water and mow the lawn as needed throughout the fall, but as the season draws to an end, lower the blades. They should be lowered to the lowest setting for the last two cuttings of the year, that will allow sunlight to reach the “crown” of the grass and prevent browning during the winter.

“I kind of let the turf tell me when it’s time to stop mowing,” David Frank, an MSU AgBioResearch scientist, told “As air temperatures cool, you’ll eventually get to the point where the turf just isn’t growing.”

Try not to trim off more than one-third of the grass blades at any single time. Gradually lowering the cutting height approaching the last to mowings can be a good idea.

Continue to Fertilize

Many lawn care experts are in agreement: if a homeowner is going to pick one season to fertilize their lawn, they should do it in the fall. The reason is that the grass grows more slowly as the weather cools, but the plants under the soil still need nutrients. Fertilizer will keep them healthy and ready to grow once the next spring starts. Not sure why you should fertilize? Some of the biggest benefits include:

  • Bare foot-worthy grass
  • Better growth all year round
  • Fewer problem areas
  • Less money spent on weed control
  • Better environment for wildlife

Fill In Bald Spots

The fall is a good time of the year to fix any bare or bald spots in the lawn. While they’re not necessarily a major issue, they can be pretty unsightly. Most garden centers will offer an “all-in-one” lawn care or repair mixture, which has grass seeds and a lawn fertilizer mixed in. Often with an organic mulch, too. Spread a thick layer of this mixture over the balding area, compact it down, then water it thoroughly every other day for a week or two. If you want to prevent those bald spots from coming back in the spring, you should start caring for them well before the first frost.

So homeowners everywhere should start looking at their lawns and seeing if they need to put a little fall-effort into it. The best season for lawn care is coming, and you, like many other homeowners, should get ready!

With more people going green with each passing week, the backyard garden is undergoing a bit of a Pinterest-fueled renaissance. However, gardening can be an incredibly difficult hobby to teach yourself.

That’s where the Master Gardeners program comes in. These classes are offered all over the United States and Canada, and they’re a great way for beginners who want to learn how to tend their garden (click here to find courses near you!).

Why Learn How To Garden?

Many Americans (around 83% of them) think that having a yard is important, and fully 90% of those with a yard think it is important that it is well-maintained. And they’re right, a touch of quality landscaping can be a major factor in your home’s curb appeal.

However, knowing how to maintain that yard can be difficult, especially if a homeowner doesn’t have much experience with things like landscaping or hardscaping. Keeping your plants healthy and in great condition can be a hard task without adequate knowledge, and since one in four people never garden in their lives, there are a lot of homeowners that just don’t know where to start.

And that’s why the Master Gardeners classes are so popular.

How Does It Work?

One of these classes recently launched in West Virginia to help members of their communities learn to garden well.

The classes are part of a 10-week long training course that costs $100, and it comes with a West Virginia Extension Master Gardener’s Manual. The $100 fee covers the cost of speakers and lectures for the class.

According to officials for the program, the class is currently forming and is expected to start by mid-September. The course will cover topics like botany, plant identification, vegetable gardening, soil fertility and nutrient management, and how to handle plant disease and insects.

“Master Gardeners is a great program to connect members of the community,” Wood County Agricultural Extension Agent J.J. Barrett said. “The goal of the Master Gardening program is to enhance and supplement consumer horticulture programs of the WVU Extension Service.”

The individuals that run the program, known as the “Master Gardeners,” are volunteers that are trained in small-scale food production. They took the same courses that the program offers, and then share that knowledge with the community.

“The Master Gardener Program is a great way to enhance your gardening knowledge not only for personal use, but also to enable a person to assist their community through Master Gardener programs and efforts,” said Tony Playtis, president of the Wood County Extension Master Gardeners.

“You don’t have to throw out everything you own and start with a new look. We’re going to help you sustain the environment with your own personal style,” designer Linda Woodrum told HGTV in a recent interview.

And it’s true! Many people don’t see much of a bridge between home decor and environmental sustainability, but there are countless ways to personalize your home with your own unique style without leaving much of a carbon footprint. Here are some creative ways to combine home decor with eco-friendliness in your very own home.

In The Kitchen

A minor kitchen remodel has an average return on investment of 82.7%, so why not remodel using Earth-friendly materials? Woodrum suggests natural stone countertops and cabinets created from bamboo, eucalyptus, or another sustainable or recycled wood.

“Think about things that won’t end up in landfills and they’re probably green. You don’t see people pulling out granite counters and throwing them in the local landfills.”

Woodrum also recommends homeowners consider the possibility of updating just the front of your kitchen’s cabinets since that’s the only part that’s seen. Otherwise, recycled hardware can usually be found at flea markets or secondhand stores, and recycled glass tiles are growing in popularity as well.

In The Bathroom

In a Houzz survey, 60% said they plan to remodel their master bathroom, but chances are very few of them understand the virtually endless ways to transform it while staying eco-friendly. As for counters and cabinets, Woodrum recommends following her guidelines for kitchen remodels, but it doesn’t end there. She also suggests water-saving shower heads and toilets, as their savings can add up faster than you might think. Tankless hot water heaters are also a worthwhile and eco-friendly investment. Aside from that, make sure to replace leaking appliances as soon as you can.

In The Living Room

If you’re considering getting new carpets, take a minute to consider some eco-friendly options.

“A lot of the major carpet manufacturers are working to bring green into the home,” says Woodrum. Green carpeting is an increasingly popular option due to its versatility and recycled materials. She says the same goes for paint and wallpaper. “All the major paint companies are now offering green products. And it’s the same for wallpaper.”

Purchasing antiques is also a viable way to lessen your carbon footprint. Rugs, furniture, and even small knick knacks are better purchased used than new, Woodrum says.

In The Backyard

Everyone knows that growing trees and other gardening efforts greatly benefit the environment. However, Woodrum says some plants are better than others in certain areas, and homeowners should choose plants that grow well in their area’s natural climate.

“Using plants that are native to your area — thus sustainable in your area — are easier to grow,” she says. “Choose plants that work within the natural climate and soil conditions to your area.”

According to HomeAdvisor’s 2017 True Cost Survey, homeowners are spending nearly 60% more on home improvement projects in 2017 than in 2016, and now is a better time than ever to do your part to make your home decor as eco-friendly as possible. Between sustainably sourced countertops, cabinets, carpets, and furnishings and contractors like, you, too, can have your very own ‘green’ house.

Consider this: only 1% of the world’s water is clean enough to drink. Add the fact that 2.1 billion people around the world don’t have reliable access to water, and it’s clear that too many people struggle to find water for drinking, bathing, and cooking.

And according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization, that task falls on the shoulders of millions of women. Literally.

In their new joint report, UNICEF and WHO looked at the different types of water sources globally. They found that a staggering 263 million people have access to a sufficiently clean water source, but they have to either walk or wait in line for about 30 minutes every day to fill their buckets and bowls. On the other hand, 159 million people are forced to drink water from unsafe sources, and the water from these polluted lakes, rivers, and ponds take even longer than a half an hour to access, Quartz reports.

The study took a closer look into Africa and found the amount of time spent collecting water there was incomparable to anywhere else in the world. The study looked at 25 Sub-Saharan countries and found that in total, women spend 16 million hours collecting water every single year. In Kenya specifically, each woman spends about 4.5 hours fetching water every week. And when they are spending this time away from their families, 77% worry about their personal safety when fetching water while 24% are unable to watch after their children properly.

For hygienic purposes, the WHO recommends that each person needs 20-50 liters of water, or five to 13 gallons, every day for cooking, washing, and drinking. This translates to women having to haul anywhere from 44 to 110 pounds of water every single day, per household member.

Carrying these loads has caused numerous health problems for women all over the world, from strained backs and shoulders to premature labor and miscarriage. There is also a risk of violence at some water collection points, including both physical and sexual assault.

What’s more, global demand for water is increasing. According to the UNICEF and WHO report, the world’s demand for water will grow a whopping 40% by 2030. That’s just 13 years away.

With their report, UNICEF and the WHO are pushing for women’s equality worldwide, so they can literally take the heavy burdens off their shoulders. They believe that the only way the world will change is to start empowering women in these developing countries, which former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon calls a “global imperative.”

Until then, it is safe to say we will be a little more thankful every time we get a glass of water from the tap.

When Boylan Slat was 16, a diving expedition in Greece changed his life. He recalls seeing more plastic bags than fish, and seven years later, he has raised more than $30 million to help rid the ocean of plastic. Once a small project, Slat now has the means to launch what he calls “the largest cleanup in history” as early as next year.

But the scientific community doesn’t necessarily agree with his methods.

Slat’s company, The Ocean Cleanup, wants to clear the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an area between Hawaii and California where ocean garbage has been accumulating — with giant trash collectors. These floating collection devices, funded largely by Silicon Valley moguls, were designed to clear up to 50% of the infamous garbage patch within five years.

Slat believes companies like Apple and Microsoft will eventually sponsor these machines and fund his cleanup efforts. Considering Microsoft and Facebook recently joined forces to lay a 6,600km Transatlantic cable from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain, tech companies already have interests under the sea.

Unlike glass, which can be battered by ocean waves for 50 years and come out as a small treasure, plastic has no such beautiful fate. And scientists aren’t convinced that Slat’s plan is the answer to that issue.

“Cleaning up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is, in my view, not a very clever way to address this problem,” marine biologist Jan van Franeker of Wageningen Marine Research in the Netherlands told The Verge. “It’s such a waste of energy.”

Marcus Eriksen, the co-founder and research director at the nonprofit The 5 Gyres Institute, is of the same mind.

“By focusing on the middle of the ocean, you’re missing the boat,” he said.

According to a Science paper published in 2015, almost 8 million metric tons of plastic entered the ocean from land. The issue? Only 3% of that plastic is accounted for at the surface. The rest is theorized to be at the bottom of the ocean, suspended in the water column, or washed up on shore. As of 2010, over 123 million people lived on coastal property and likely had to suffer the consequences of that ocean garbage.

But researchers are working to fix what oceanographer Dr Erik van Sebille from Utrecht University calls “a massive knowledge gap.” Thanks to Captain Charles Moore, who was part of the team that discovered the first garbage patch in 1997, we may be able to learn more about ocean plastic.

As the founder of Algalita Marine Research, a non-profit organization combating the “plastic plague” of garbage floating in the world’s oceans, Moore has ushered scientists to and from garbage patches for 30 years now. He explained that plastic may never be abandoned by humanity, but that combating its presence in the ocean is an issue that requires “international collaboration.”

With so much research still to be done, Slat’s slef-proclaimed “exciting adventure” may meet with more opposition before it becomes a reality.

“If you think about it as an overflowing sink, the first thing you’re gonna do before cleaning up the water is to turn the faucet off,” said an ocean expert when speaking of Slat’s project.

Even so, Slat is doing more than virtually anyone to clean up a major environmental disaster.

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