Lower Your Carbon Footprint With Bike Commuting

If you are looking for some easy ways to lower your carbon footprint, then look at one of the least eco friendly things in your day to day life. That would be your vehicle. Obviously, you could trade in your vehicle for an electric or hybrid car to reduce the emissions and your carbon footprint. However, the most beneficial thing that you can do for the environment is to ditch the vehicle all together!

That is correct. You should consider using a bicycle for your transportation. That way, you will not be releasing any toxic emissions. Plus, you will end up getting in some exercise while you are two wheeling yourself from place to place.

According to Randy at Rowing To Fit, riding a road bike to and from work and other places is a great form of exercise. In fact, he recommends it after using a home rowing machine because of it’s great workout. And according to a recent article on Business Insider, there are about a dozen benefits to bike commuting.

In addition to helping save the environment, riding a bike instead of driving a car also means that you won’t be wasting time sitting in any traffic jams. This both saves you time and means that you are not contributing to the car emissions in the traffic jams.

Likewise, you will no longer have to worry about finding a good parking spot cause you will not need a parking space at all! If you have a folding bike, then you can just take it inside with you. Otherwise, you will just need a place to chain up your bike. And that’s it.

I want to take a moment now to remind you that you do not even need to own your own bike in order to get rid of your car and make bike riding a thing. In fact, many cities across the USA have bike share programs where you can basically rent a  bike only for the periods that you need one. So, it is very cost effect and affordable for pretty much anyone who is interested in making the switch.

And finally, think about how great this is for your health too. You will be getting regular exercise and inhaling less harmful car emissions. So definitely consider making the switch from vehicles to bikes and you will not only be helping the environment but also yourself. Definitely a step in the right direction for the future.

 

Eliminating BPA From Your Life

If you are looking for ways to remove toxins and other harmful substances from your life, and that of your family, then eliminating BPA is a good place to start. While it may seem like targeting BPA for removal is a fairly easy thing to do, that is not entirely true. In fact, you might be surprised by just how many things have BPA in them.

For most people, BPA is associated with water bottles. And yes, most water bottles do have potentially harmful BPA in them. So, getting rid of any BPA water bottles is an excellent first step in getting BPA out of your life. But it is just one step among many.

What is BPA?

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical compound that has been in use since the 1960s. Primarily, BPA has been used in the creation of various resins and plastics. Some of the things that contain BPA include toys, food containers, thermal paper products, baby bottles, food can liners, dental sealants, bottle tops and water bottles.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive consensus on the safety of BPA. If you ask the National Toxicology Program at the Department of Health and Human Services or the FDA, they say that there is “some concern” in regards to BPA and the effects it may have on the brain as well as infant, children and fetuses. However, the American Chemistry Council maintains that there is no health risk from BPA exposure.

Regardless of what the experts say, some people (like me) still want to limit exposure to BPA simply because there is a possibility of adverse health effects. If you are also one of those people, then the internet is the perfect place for you to get more information on getting BPA out of your life.

Is BPA Hiding In Your Food?

When you eat breakfast, lunch or dinner, are you unknowingly consuming a side of BPA with your food? A recent article on All Things Healing seems to think that may actually be the case. According to the article, our food containers, bottles and other packaging may be leaking BPA into the food that we actually eat. This is some potentially alarming information since there may be a link between BPA and prostate and breast cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society points out that there is some concern regarding BPA and its effects on the human body.

Since the entry point for the BPA seems to be food containers, that makes it incredibly important to choose food that is in BPA-free containers when possible. This means no plastic wrap or actual plastic containers. Avoiding using a microwave to heat or cook food is another great way to lower your exposure to BPA.

In order to reduce your normal BPA exposure from food on a day to day basis, then keep these important tips in mind:

  • use glass or ceramic containers to store food
  • use stainless steel pans to cook your food instead of non-stick pans
  • use aluminum foil instead of plastic wrap to cover your food and dishes
  • only use canned foods that are BPA free

Utilizing these tips will help you prevent BPA from taking up residence in your lunch!

France Bans BPA in Food Packaging

In December 2012, the French parliament took a major step in the health and welfare of its citizen by banning BPA in baby food packaging and all other food containers.

As a result of this new ban, no baby food containers can have BPA in them starting in 2013. And food companies get until 2015 to remove BPA from food containers. This means that by 2015 there will be no food containers in France that have BPA in them at all.

What made the French parliament make such a decision?

Some studies utilizing lab animals showed results that pointed to toxic effects on the nervous system and brain as a result of the BPA exposure. Other studies that played a part in the decision show a link between reproductive disorders, coronary heart disease and BPA exposure.

France actually banned baby bottles containing BPA back in 2010, so it is really not all that surprising that they took this move. Many other countries have also banned BPA in baby bottles.

For more on this story, check out this NY Daily News article.

Top Eco-Friendly Habits To Adopt

Some habits that people have are more eco-friendly than others are, and some should be used by as many people as possible. Now a lot of people may believe that only big and drastic steps can help the environment.

However that is not strictly the case, there are some seemingly minor eco-friendly habits that if everybody used could improve the environment yet also be friendly to our bank balances. Now that is definitely a win – win situation.

The following tips demonstrate that it is easy to change our behavior to help our planet and help our often stretched budgets at the same time.

1. Eat at home more frequently, as takeaways can use an unbelievable amount of packaging. With the exception of pizza boxes most of that packaging cannot be recycled at all. You may use slightly more gas or electric by cooking at home but the savings in money, packaging, and the weight around your waist will be worth it. Your wallet will be fuller of dollar bills, and your weight could drop by a few pounds minimum.

Those people that usually drive miles to collect their takeaways could use less gallons of gas, further lowering their carbon footprint, and spending less on filling their fuel tanks.

2. Replace paper napkins with cloth ones. Although cloth ones cost more to begin with, in the end you will save money. More importantly you reduce the amount of paper paste getting dumped into landfill sites as napkins cannot be recycled.

3. Start using reusable bottles for drinking water. Sales of bottled water have risen drastically over the last 20 years or so, and therefore so have the number of bottles going to the trash dump. Although most bottles could be recycled people do not often bother to do so. The authorities in San Francisco decided to help the environment by insisting bottled water could only be sold in reusable bottles.

4. Change your light bulbs. Traditional light bulbs waste an unbelievable amount of electricity. Switch to the energy efficient bulbs and the amount of electricity used in your household will drop markedly. Low energy bulbs do cost more than traditional ones, yet the cost is soon recuperated from lower electricity bills. Energy use drops roughly by a third after switching, and the bulbs can last up to ten times longer.

5. Hang your toilet paper differently, no seriously this bit has been proven by environmental researchers. It is a very simple way of saving paper, you hang the toilet paper over the cardboard roll. In some circles there has been contentious debate as to whether over the roll was better than under the roll. From an ecological viewpoint there is only one winner, over the roll. People apparently use less toilet paper when it is hung over the roll, as they have a clear view of how much they are using.

6. Everybody should use less water. It is a scarcer resource than most people would believe, and it should not be wasted. People that are metered will also tell you that it is an expensive resource.

Saving water can be really easy. For instance do not leave it running while you brush your teeth.

Always take a shower instead of a bath, making sure you only have quick showers. Switch to using a low flow showerhead, they are easy to install, and to take out if you have to replace your shower, or at some point move house.

Remember if you are not using things switch them off.

Five Important Benefits of Green Buildings

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, buildings in the U.S. account for more than 35 percent of total energy use; more than 65 percent of total electricity consumption; more than 35 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions, and more than 10 percent of the total water consumption.” With this kind of effect on the environment as a whole, building “green” has become a necessity. Building sustainable (“green”) structures reduces their overall impact on the natural environment by using water, energy, and other natural resources efficiently and reducing pollution, waste, and environmental deterioration and destruction, but that’s not all. Here are five important benefits of building “green”:

1. Green Construction is Cost-effective

The bottom line is that green buildings are more cost-effective than traditional ones.The costs for sustainable construction are less than 13% higher than the cost of traditional construction. This minor difference in overall expenditures will be covered by significantly lower operating costs of the building. In addition, a report entitled, The Business Case for Green Building (World Green Building Council, 2012) detailed the cost benefits of Energy Star and LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified sustainable buildings. This report combined data from a number of sustainability studies. It was reported that since 2001, there has been a steady decrease in the cost of sustainable buildings due to improved green construction methods and better supply management of sustainable materials. Both have brought overall costs down. This report also stated that the pool of green building professionals has increased, and the resources needed to learn about sustainable construction are more abundant and readily available.

2. Green Buildings Are Worth More Money

Market studies have shown that both residential and commercial buildings that are certified sustainable can draw over 25 percent higher prices than traditional buildings. In addition, the more “green” a building is, the higher the price will be (LEED certification in increasing order: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum). In other words, an LEED Platinum building would potentially command a higher selling price than a LEED Silver building. Also, occupancy rates have also been found to be more than 20 percent higher for LEED certified buildings which leads to an increase in rental revenues.

3. Green Buildings Save Energy, Water and Money

Most people know that green buildings use less energy than traditional buildings, but the question is: how much? Studies of LEED structures have shown that these sustainable buildings use up to 35 percent less energy. These energy savings increase with each LEED level of certification. In fact, energy-efficient net zero structures supply electricity back into the utility grid, resulting in no energy costs at the end of a year. Additionally, green buildings with incorporated water-saving methods (water-efficient plumbing fixtures; water recycling systems; irrigation control systems, etc.) use about 38 percent less water than comparable non-sustainable buildings. From the start, owners and tenants will see savings in their energy and water bills.

4. Tax Incentives for Green Buildings

Since 2005 federal tax incentives have prompted the construction of both residential and commercial sustainable buildings. Additionally, many state governments have also enacted tax provisions to encourage energy-efficient construction. Consult a tax expert for more information about the current tax incentives for building green or making sustainable home improvements.

5. Health and Productivity: Less Obvious Financial Benefits

Sick building syndrome is a problem that has afflicted the American workforce for decades. This “epidemic” costs U.S. businesses billions of dollars in lost work hours and absenteeism. By default, sustainable buildings are much healthier than traditional buildings. They have cleaner air, more suitable light, and are made of safer, non-toxic materials. These factors have an enormous impact on workers’ overall health and welfare. For example, a research study found that absenteeism was reduced by 40 percent in thirty-one of Seattle’s sustainable office buildings (sponsored by the City of Seattle) when compared to absentee rates in conventional buildings. A number of other research studies have found that natural daylight and window views (of nature) are two of the most important elements for reduced stress levels which in turn, lead to increased productivity in employees. Also, additional studies have linked better ventilation with more than a 10 percent gain in productivity; a direct result of improved outside air rates, committed delivery of fresh air to work areas, and lower levels of pollutants. Increased productivity translates into increased revenues and is a driving force for many corporations to go green.

By reducing energy and water consumption, employing green materials and strategies, and supporting a healthier, happier workforce, green design and sustainable construction not only benefit architects, owners, and tenants of green buildings but society as a whole, economically and environmentally. With dwindling natural resources and escalating energy and healthcare costs, going green may be the key to a brighter future.

Living Greener: Ten Tips to Help You Go Green

Making simple and easy changes in your home will help conserve energy, reduce carbon emissions, and best of all, help you save money! need some suggestions? Here are ten ways to “go green” around your house and in your daily life.

1. Replace Your ordinary Light Bulbs with Energy-saving Alternatives

Get rid of your old incandescent bulbs and switch to compact florescent lights (CFLs) or LED bulbs. CFLs come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and wattage to fit any light fixture. They may cost more than regular light bulbs, but you will make up the difference with the energy saved (translating into a lower utility bill). Their longer life spans also mean less replacement costs. In addition, think about using LED bulbs, especially during the holidays. These are real energy savers and will not need changing for as long as you live in your house.

2. Don’t Forget about those High-watt Floodlights!

Speaking of lighting, an average floodlight (100-watt), used for six hours each day, will use more than $39 of electricity over one year. It will emit over 375 pounds of carbon dioxide gas (depending on where you live). Easy fix – replace all your floodlights with CFL versions – they use 25% less energy. In addition, use LED bulbs in your landscape lighting. They will last for at least 10 years and will reduce energy usage by more than 75%.

3. Wash Full Loads

Dishwashers and clothes washers use lots of water and energy, so make sure you run full loads each time. If you need to do a partial load of clothes, adjust your water level accordingly. Also, skip rinsing your dirty dishes. Scrape any leftover food off your plates and place in your dishwasher. Today’s dishwashers can handle most food residue left on dirty dishes. Buying an efficient dishwasher detergent will help, too.

4. Change Your Shower Head

A low flow, high-efficiency shower head will save over 2,500 gallons of water per person per year. They are specifically made to conserve water while still maintaining good water pressure. This simple change will save you more that $40 in energy costs. Also, putting aerators on your sink faucets is an inexpensive way to save water.

5. Conserve Water in Your Bathroom

Keep a bucket in your bathroom and fill it with the cold water that comes out before the hot water starts. Use this to water your plants. Change your old toilet to a new, water conserving model which uses less than half the water to flush, or place a brick or full plastic jug inside the tank of your toilet to displace some of the water.

6. Adjust Your Hot Water Heater

By making simple adjustments to your water heater set-up will save money and reduce your carbon footprint by more than 25 percent. Set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees, protect it with an insulating blanket and wrap insulation around the first 3-6 feet of your water pipes.

7. Make your Own Compost

Turning your food scraps and lawn waste into mulch will reduce your overall trash production, and you will have nutrient-rich compost for next spring’s plantings.

8. Take Advantage of your Energy Provider

Tap the resources available from your local electric company and take advantage of any special incentive/rebate programs. Go to your energy provider’s website to learn more about their energy conservation programs.

9. Drive Smarter

You can improve fuel efficiency by more than 20 percent by making little changes in your driving habits . Driving close to or at the speed limit, keeping your tires at the recommended pressure, making sure air and oil filters are clean, and stepping on the gas and the brakes carefully will help reduce your emissions and improve your fuel economy.

10. Use those Travel Mugs and Reusable Bags

Little efforts, like bringing your own coffee mug to your favorite coffee shop will help save money and help conserve resources. Take along reusable shopping bags whenever you go to the grocery store. Ask for paper instead of plastic if you forget your bags at home, and reuse the bags at home. Paper bags make great book covers and are easily replaced.