Category Archives: eco-friendly

University Recycling 101: How College Students Go Green

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University Recycling 101: How College Students Go Green

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How the Cloud Is Going Green

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You already know the many lauded benefits of the cloud — it saves paper, equipment and raw materials, while also providing employees and workplace teams an easier means to access important documents and files. But you may have also heard about how cloud data servers pack a punch in terms of environmental impact.

To minimize their carbon footprint, data centers are going green. Here are the ways companies behind some of the latest cloud-based technologies are working to reduce their environmental impact in the rollout of new products and services.

Starting Small

Like within many other industries, business owners who have previously invested in cloud data centers are starting small with their eco-friendly efforts. But this isn’t to say their current efforts aren’t making a difference. For example, many data centers are swapping out old, incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs, which conserve energy and provide massive cost savings on monthly utility bills.

Cloud computing is also a more environmentally friendly practice compared to investing in on-site servers. That’s because these cloud data centers simply don’t need the same amount of infrastructure and space compared to their on-site server counterparts.

In fact, businesses that invest in on-site servers typically have more space than they need to house this bulky infrastructure, particularly if they plan to grow or expand operations. This leads to a number of drives sitting empty in the short or long term that still need to be powered and cooled.

In comparison, cloud data center operators can optimize the number of servers they own and use depending on their client and storage needs. For example, instead of running an on-site, physical customer service department, businesses can invest in a cloud contact center that requires less space and infrastructure.

Using Renewable Energy

Some leading cloud computing companies, like Facebook, Google and Apple, are also paving the way when it comes to investing in renewable energy in their data centers. In fact, all of Apple’s data centers are powered entirely by solar energy, while Facebook installed some of its newest servers in Iowa so the company could take advantage of the area’s wind energy. Microsoft is using both types of renewable energy for its cloud centers: solar energy in Virginia and wind energy in Texas.

These giant corporations have a lot of political power and community clout, and they’re using it to not only enforce stricter regulations on energy use, but to also move the entire industry toward renewable energy.

Optimizing Energy Use

One of the biggest electricity sucks for on-site servers includes maintaining cool temperatures in the spaces that house this infrastructure to prevent overheating. According to REIT.com, an average office space uses three to five watts of power per square foot, whereas a physical data center uses 100 to 300 watts per square foot.

That’s why many on-site data centers are housed in buildings or spaces specifically designed for their use. As the major tech giants have shown, locating operations near water and other renewable energy sources is optimal for conserving energy. However, if that’s not in the cards, some companies are going a different, forward-thinking route: working with contractors to build energy-efficient and even LEED-certified warehouses.

Data center operators have also been examining the airflow in their buildings, so they can separate hot and cold air streams. By keeping cool air near their servers — and moving hot air away from this expensive equipment — companies don’t need to run as many fans to maintain them.

The cloud continues to get greener. Not only is this technology saving companies space, time and money on hosting their own servers — and saving them a lot of paper and filing cabinets — it’s now leading the way in renewable energy and energy optimization. These are the first steps to a more connected, eco-conscious world.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
How 5G Technology Will Power a Greener Future
5 Top Tips for Recycling Old Technology
How to Finally Go Paperless in the Office

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Latest posts by Earth911 (see all)

How the Cloud Is Going Green – August 14, 2017
Hacks to Stay Cool: Beat the Heat Using Less Energy – July 31, 2017
How to Shop for Clothes with the Earth in Mind – July 28, 2017

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How the Cloud Is Going Green

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Why You Should Get an Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat

The number one rule of yoga? Do no harm.

Yoga shouldn?t physically injure you?if it does, you?re doing it wrong and you need to practice safer alignment.

It also shouldn?t injure or harm others?it is a practice of love and universal acceptance.

But when your yoga practice is hurting the environment? That?s when a lot of us turn a blind eye.

In our consumer culture, the yoga market is a cash cow. Americans spend over $16 million a year on yoga classes, mats, clothes and related equipment. Yoga is no longer just a lifestyle, but it has overflowed into fast fashion. Atheleisure is ubiquitous and there is always pressure for us to get more?new, new, new. But stop a minute and consider the effect all that yoga gear has on the environment.

It is tempting to buy cheap yoga mats, but they are more harmful than you may realize. Modern yoga mats are loaded with plenty of plastic-based nasties, but the one of main concern in PVC plastic. Not only are these bad for you (they contain known carcinogens?and phthalates?not things?you want seeping?in to your sweaty back), but PVC plastics?are non-biodegradable, which means they will leach toxins into the environment for years to come. How?s that for ?do no harm??

If you are bringing a reusable water bottle to class but still using a cheap, old mat, do some research. Yoga mats are technically environmental pollutants once you’re done using them. And since cheap PVC mats don’t boast quality or longevity, think of all the yoga mats you will be?dumping into the environment over time.

When buying a new eco-friendly mat, know that some mats claim to be eco-friendly, but always double check. Polyester-based mats will not biodegrade once disposed, meaning they aren’t as?green as they claim to be. And be aware that?good eco mats can get pricey! The temptation to buy a cheap mat is a powerful one, but a?better made mat is going to last a lot longer and be kinder to both you and the planet. If you can, look for mat made with natural rubber, which is both incredibly grippy and sustainable. Make sure it has enough thickness for you, but don?t opt for anything too heavy as it might make you less likely to use it.

I use and swear by?a Jade Harmony?mat, which is made from super-grippy, sustainably-harvested natural rubber and comes in a beautiful array of colors. Gone are the days of my hands slipping and sliding in downward dog, which means my mat has actually improved my practice. Talk about bang for my buck! (Bonus eco benefit: for every mat purchased, Jade plants a tree.) Of course, if you have a latex allergy you should avoid natural rubber. Opt instead for a cork mat.

And if you are looking to recycle an old yoga mat? You can repurpose old mats in your own home easily, or you may be able to recycle PVC mats by sending them back to the manufacturer to be shredded down, melted and reused.

A mat is an integral part of your yoga practice, so make sure it aligns with your core values. Don’t sacrifice your health. Don’t sacrifice the planet. Know what’s in your mat.

Related:
Why People Rave About Cannabis Yoga
5 Ways to Successfully Read More Books
The Best Apps to Keep You Focused & Productive

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Why You Should Get an Eco-Friendly Yoga Mat

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Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

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With summer winding down, it’s hard not to spend every waking (and maybe non-waking) minute outside. That means a whole lot of hikes, cookouts and outdoor fun. You’ve got a handle on green camping hacks and eco-friendly picnic essentials — now let’s zoom in on beverage containers.

Beverages are essential when it comes to outdoor soirees. When picking them out at the store, you’re faced with a few options: plastic bottles, glass bottles or aluminum cans. What to choose? The decision can be daunting for environmentalists. We’re here to give you the lowdown on which of these receptacles gets the planet’s stamp of approval.

Step 1: How They’re Made

We see beverage containers constantly — lining the shelves of the grocery store, filling coolers at BBQs, quenching a beachgoer’s thirst. Just how did they get there?

Plastic

Plastic manufacturing starts off with oil and natural gas. These raw materials are converted into smaller pieces called monomers, and are then chemically bonded together to create long chains, known as polymers. These polymers are the plastic you see in the form of water bottles, food packaging and much more.

To get to the crude oil and natural gas needed to produce plastics, we must head for the earth’s crust. However, oil and natural gas is buried beneath layers of bedrock — that’s where drilling comes in. Drilling for oil in our pristine oceans and fracking for natural gas in America’s West is destroying our environment.

Glass

Liquefied sand, soda ash (naturally occurring sodium carbonate), limestone, recycled glass and various additives make up the glass bottles we use to hold our beverages.

Using limestone prevents glass from weathering and is thus a valuable raw material for glass containers. The sedimentary rock is typically mined from a quarry — either above or below ground. In terms of the environment, limestone mining may contaminate water and contribute to noise pollution. Limestone mining can also destroy habitat for animals who live in their cave ecosystem and can form a permanent scar on the landscape.

It’s safe to say that the raw materials that go into making glass bottles are widely available in the U.S.

Cans

New aluminum cans are almost always made from bauxite, a mineral that the U.S. gets from mines in countries like Guinea and Australia. The mining of bauxite is harsh on the planet — raw bauxite is discovered by way of open-pit mining, essentially scraping a pit into the landscape and leaving environmental destruction behind. Bauxite mining contributes to habitat loss and water contamination, as well as a slew of other negative environmental impacts, like increased erosion.

Step 2: Transport

When getting from here to there, each container has a different footprint.

Plastic

The environmental cost of transporting plastic bottles can exceed even those of creating the plastic bottle in the first place. This isn’t always the case — it depends on the distance of transport — but it’s a throttling idea.

For short distances, plastic bottles have a low transportation footprint. They pack tightly — companies are definitely responding to greener consumers and are keeping sustainability in mind when designing the shapes of their bottles. They’re also very lightweight, meaning less fuel is consumed during shipping.

Glass

There’s one big, undeniable eco-unfriendly aspect of glass bottles — they’re heavy. The transportation of glass bottles requires significantly more energy than their lightweight counterparts. Glass is fragile, too, so they can’t be packed into a truck as tightly as aluminum and plastic can.

Cans

Americans love cans because they are small, lightweight and airtight. Turns out, the planet does, too. Their size means they save fuel — more cans can fit into a smaller space and their light weight means less gas to get them from point A to point B. Because aluminum isn’t particularly fragile, cans use less cardboard packaging when transported as well, meaning more room for more cans.

Step 3: Where They End Up

Empty — now what? Each of these containers is recyclable. Here’s how they match up.

Plastic

The recycling rate of plastics is actually quite low — in 2014, only 9.5 percent of plastic material generated in the U.S. was recycled. The rest was combusted for energy or sent to a landfill where its fate is uncertain — it can either find its way out and pollute our planet or sit there for up to 500 years before finally decomposing.

Glass

Glass bottles are 100 percent recyclable and an estimated 80 percent of recovered glass containers are made into new glass bottles. Once you toss your glass bottle in the recycling bin, manufacturers can have it back onto the shelves in a month. Plus, using recycled glass when making new glass bottles reduces the manufacturer’s carbon footprint — furnaces may run at lower temperatures when recycled glass is used because it is already melted down to the right consistency.

Cans

Like glass, aluminum cans are completely recyclable and are commonly recycled worldwide as part of municipal recycling programs. Aluminum cans can be recycled repeatedly with no limit.

In her book, The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard notes that we are currently recycling only 45 percent of cans. That calls for a lot of pit mining for bauxite to make new material. According to Leonard, more than a trillion aluminum cans have been trashed in landfills since 1972, when such records began.

And the Winner Is…

If they are made from 100 percent recycled material, aluminum cans should be your top choice when shopping for picnic beverages. Their low transportation footprint and ease of recyclability make them a winner.

However, the extraction of raw bauxite is detrimental to the planet. New aluminum cans are not eco-friendly.

Glass should be your pick if recycled cans are not an option. Glass bottles are made from relatively innocuous raw materials and is, like aluminum cans, completely recyclable. Their bulky size and transportation footprint is their downfall.

Plastic does have a small carbon footprint when it comes to transportation, but it’s tough to ignore the giant carbon footprint when it comes to extraction. Plus, the plastic that doesn’t end up in a recycling bin can be a huge pollutant in our environment, killing wildlife and contaminating ecosystems. With using plastic, the planet is ravaged.

Feature images courtesy of Shutterstock

Read More:
How Many Times Can That Be Recycled?
Which Is Better? Plastic vs. Glass Food Storage Containers
The Verdict Is In: Keep the Bottle Caps On

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Lauren Murphy

Lauren has a B.S. in environmental science, a crafting addiction, and a love for all things Pacific Northwest. She writes from her cozy downtown apartment tucked in the very northwestern corner of the continental U.S. Lauren spends her time writing and focusing on a healthy, simple and sustainable lifestyle.

Latest posts by Lauren Murphy (see all)

Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum – August 11, 2017
Is Starbucks Doing Enough to Recycle Its Cups? – July 18, 2017
6 Simple Swaps for a Green 4th of July  – June 30, 2017

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Beverage Container Showdown: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Aluminum

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Can Greenwashing Ever Be Good?

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Can Greenwashing Ever Be Good?

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6 Must-Try Natural Cleaning Shortcuts

As much as I dislike the process of cleaning, I appreciateit when things are clean(and so do our guests).

So, I do my bestto clean smarter instead of harder.

With a little planning and a well-stocked pantry, you can make it easier to clean your home in a safe and eco-friendly manner.

Keep reading for some natural cleaning tips that will save you time and protect your health!

Why Natural Cleaning?

The products with which you choose to clean your home can have a tremendous impact on your health. According to studies conducted by The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times and occasionally more than 100 times higher than outdoor levels. These levels of indoor air pollutants are of particular concern because most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors.”

What causes indoor air pollution? Chemical-based household cleaners top the list, which also includes new carpet, paint, adhesives and certain types of upholstery.

Related: 7 Sources Of Indoor Air Pollution

By simply trading these toxic cleaning agents for naturally-made (but equally effective) products, you can drastically improve your indoor air quality. Ready to get started? Here are some of the basic building blocks of natural cleaning you’ll want to keep on hand.

Natural Ingredients & Supplies For Green Cleaning

Ingredients:

White Vinegar
Baking Soda
Castile Soap
Soap Nuts
Essential Oils (Lemon, Tea Tree Oil, Lavender, etc)
Borax
Olive Oil
Flour
Corn Starch
Kosher Salt
Hydrogen Peroxide

Supplies:

Newspaper
Old Socks, T-Shirts, Pillowcases, etc (to be used as cleaning cloths)
Mesh Produce Bags (for DIY pot scrubbers)
Old Toothbrushes
Empty Spray Bottles

6 Natural Cleaning Tips & Shortcuts

Once you’ve collected your natural cleaning ingredients and supplies, it’s time to put them to work in your home. It might surprise you to learn that nearly every conventional cleaning product (from glass cleaner to fabric softener) can be recreated, naturally, right in your own kitchen and at a fraction of the price.

Dirty Oven?

Make this paste out of water and baking soda, and spread all over the walls and bottomof your crusty oven (be careful not to get it on the heating elements, though!). Leave it overnight. In the morning, simply use a damp cloth to remove the paste, taking all that grime with it!

Dirty Toilet?

“Toss afull cupof baking soda right into the bowl and leave it for an hour. Then pour in a cup of white vinegar, let it sit for a few minutes and flush,” writes Chris Sosa for Care2.

Dirty Surfaces?

Use distilled water, vinegar, essential oils and some upcycled washcloths to make your ownDIY disinfectingwipes! Simply roll, stuff and soak in a glass jar that lives on your kitchen counter. Then, whenever there’s a mess that needs cleaning up, you’ve got a reusable, non-toxic wipe at your fingertips. Bonus! They can also be used in place of Swiffer pads.

Dirty Windows?

Screw a spray bottle nozzle directly onto a bottle of club soda. Instant streak-free window cleaner! (Add a little white vinegar if your windows are particularly grimy.)

Dirty Sponges?

Without proper, regular cleaning, your kitchen sponges can become horrifying breeding grounds for bacteria.Throw sponges in the microwave for 2 minutes or add them to your dishwasher’s “sterilize” cycle to kill 99 percent of the stuff hiding in there.

Dirty Ceiling Fan?

“Spritz the inside of an old pillowcase with a vinegar and water solution,” recommends A Part of Life. Place the pillowcase around each fan blade, gently wiping toward the outer end of the blade, trapping the dust inside. Rotate the pillowcase so you have a clean piece of cloth for each blade.

What’s your favorite natural cleaning tip or shortcut? Tell us in the comments!

Related:
10 DIY Green Cleaning Recipes
51 Fantastic Uses for Baking Soda
8’Shower Plants’ That Want to Live in Your Bathroom

Images via Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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6 Must-Try Natural Cleaning Shortcuts

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Keep Your Home And Yourself Cool Now That Heatwave Time Is Here

Who doesn’t love summer? Wait, do I see a few hands being shyly raised? Well, go head and admit it: summertime is absolutely incredible . until it’s not. When the thermometer starts to climb up past that 90-degree mark, the heat is on and suddenly sunny turns into steamy. Your electricity bills start to shoot up too, and you worry about the effect on the environment. Fortunately, there are ways to keep cool at home without cranking the thermostat up, up, and away.

Refresh yourself fast.

After commuting home from the office or doing some work in your garden, give yourself a quick, cool lift without cranking up the ol’ A/C. Takea mini “shower” by spritzing face and neck with cold water from a plant sprayer. Alternatively, change into a T-shirt that you stashed in the freezer before you headed out. Or you can simply cuddle up with an ice pack. (Wrap it in a dishtowel to prevent skin damage, please.)

Stay hydrated.

Drink lots of water during a heatwave, even indoors. Remember that if you begin to feel thirsty, that’s a sign you’re already beginning to dehydrate. As well as watching your fluid intake, replenish your electrolytes with natural yogurt,coconut water, or miso broth (lukewarm if the very idea of hot soup gives you the heebie-jeebies). Think of your animal friends, as well make sure your pet’s water dish is constantly full of clean water.

Tune up your air conditioner.

Make yourair conditioningrun more efficiently: give it a tune-up every summer and clean the filter at least once a month in the warm weather, more oftenif you live on a dusty area or have furry pets. To save even more energy, set the temperature two or three degrees higher than you normally would and supplement with a fan.

Dehumidify.

You will feel cooler if the relative humidity indoors is fairly low. Forty degrees is comfortable for most people. To reach this level, use the dehumidifying function on your A/C or a separate dehumidifier.

Don’t add useless heat.

Turn off as many electrical appliances and lights possible when not in use, to avoid adding unnecessary heat to your home. A timer,smart home system, or power strip will make this task easier. Include your fan in the list of appliances to switch off; it cools people not air, so it can only do its job when someone is in the room.

Hang thermal window treatments.

Hanging sun- and heat-blocking curtains and blinds is an inexpensive, eco-friendly way to keep your home cooler. They are especially useful when you have unshaded south or west facing windows. These exposures tend to make your house nice and sunny, which is pleasant when the weather is mild, but HOT in the summer.

Take advantage of cooler nighttime air.

Open draperies and windows themselves at night. This works when both the dew point andpollen countare low, usually below 50. The pollen count starts to increase shortly after the sun comes up, so close all those open windows as early in the morning as you can.

Insulate your attic.

Attic insulation is not just for winter. It will also help reduce heat exchange in summer, increasing your A/C energy efficiency by keeping hot airoutsideand air conditioned airinsideyour home. You will feel more comfortable while using less electricity. No wonder this upgrade offers the best return on investment of any home improvement, according toRemodeling Magazine’s annual report. HANDY HINT: If you already have insulation but it’s not enough for your needs, you can install more right on top of the existing insulation. Just don’t put a vapor barrier between the two.

Handle your thermostat with TLC.

Test this useful device to make sure that it is functioning as it should. Move heat-producing appliances like lamps or TV sets away from the thermostat so that they don’t trigger it to get the air conditioner going needlessly.

By Laura Firszt,Networx.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Keep Your Home And Yourself Cool Now That Heatwave Time Is Here

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An urban ag co-working space grows in Brooklyn

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An urban ag co-working space grows in Brooklyn

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Finding Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Employee

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Finding Ways to Be an Eco-Friendly Employee

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Climate March Brings Thousands of People to Protest Donald Trump

Mother Jones

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The latest version of organized protest against President Donald Trump is officially underway with the third annual People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. The event is expected to draw thousands of participants both in the nation’s capital and sister marches nationwide, where demonstrators plan to speak out against the Trump administration’s plans to undo the federal regulations that are in place to fight climate change.

Coincidentally, Saturday’s march also marks the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency. During that period, the president has stacked his administration with prominent climate deniers, proposed eliminating billions in scientific research, and threatened to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty.

Mother Jones has three reporters on the scene in DC. Be sure to follow Rebecca Leber, Nathalie Baptiste, and Tim Murphy in DC, Jaelynn Grisso in New York, Karen Hao in Oakland, along with our rolling collection of updates below:

3:20 pm ET As we get ready to finish our coverage, here is something to think about.

During the march, Trump tweeted this.

He might want to check out what happened in his own back yard today, as thousands of people chanted, “The oceans are rising and so are we.”

3:10 pm ET In Los Angeles, marchers are also starting to gather.

3:05 pm ET A report from Oakland, where an idigenous leader sings some songs for the climate marchers.

3:03 pm ET Leonardo DiCaprio is all in on the climate march.

2:50 pm ET This is what is happening at the Bay Area march.

2:45 pm ET Here are some conversations Rebecca Leber had at the march in DC.

2:40 pm ET Despite the heat, the crowds in DC aren’t thinning.

2:33 pm ET Marchers are starting to gather in Oakland, Calif.

2:20 pm ET Some more images from DC.

2:15 pm ET Tim Murphy catches up with a man who wants to be the next governor of Virginia.

2:10 pm ET Marchers have arrived at the White House. Wonder who is at home?

2:05 pm ET Here are some reports from New York, where there are celebrity sightings, and Chicago, where it’s raining.

Meanwhile, back in DC, scientists and educators at the march are calling themselves “defenders of truth.” According to the march website, they “defend the facts and promote scientific learning in service of humanity.”

Rebecca Leber/Mother Jones

1:45 pm ET And look who Rebecca Leber just saw. Bill Nye, who also marched for science last weekend, tells her, “Science is political but we don’t want it to be partisan.”

1:39 pm ET Marches all over.

1:30 pm ET

1:16 pm ET The marchers are now going past a particular hotel. They have something to say about its owner.

1:12 pm ET Our environmental reporter Rebecca Leber is on the scene.

1:10 pm ET Despite the heat, this dog persisted.

1:07 pm ET The DC march has begun!

12:41 pm ET Here are some participants from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

12:35 pm ET Nathalie Baptiste captures the mood on the mall.

12:32 pm ET While you are waiting for the march to begin, take a look at some of our great Climate Desk coverage.

12:25 pm ET The crowds are growing and the temperature is rising—and that’s the point.

12:14 pm ET Marchers came to DC from all over the country.

11:57 am ET More marchers in DC.

11:50 am ET Environmental justice is a crucial part of this conversation—so are broken promises.

11:47 am ET Switzerland also joined in—this from Geneva.

11:32 am ET From DC where the weather is clearing. Temps supposed to rise above 90 today.

11:25 am ET This is what is happening in Pittsburgh right now.

10:30 am ET We will be sharing a few of the signs that appear.

10:09 am ET People are still gathering under overcast skies for the Climate March in Washington, D.C. but even before it began, the EPA tweaked its website.

Meanwhile, in Denmark, things have already started:

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Climate March Brings Thousands of People to Protest Donald Trump

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