Category Archives: Venta

Trump admin lets Florida opt out of controversial offshore drilling plans.

People who lived through last year’s hurricanes may experience grief, anxiety, and depression for months or years, experts say.

“They’re grieving about the loss of what was,” Judith Andrews, co-chair of the Texas Psychological Association, told AP. Her organization provides free counseling to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Following a natural disaster, people experience an arc of emotional responses. This usually starts with a “heroic” phase, when people rise to the occasion to survive and help others, Andrews says. Then disillusionment sets in as people come to grips with a new reality post-disaster.

In Puerto Rico, calls to the health department’s emergency hotline for psychiatric crises have doubled following Hurricane Maria, and the number of suicides has also risen.“Hurricane Maria is probably the largest psychosocial disaster in the United States,” Joseph Prewitt-Diaz, the head of the American Red Cross’ mental health disaster response, told Grist.

Hurricanes can have long-term effects on mental health. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalizations in the Queens neighborhoods hit worst by the storm are nearly double that of New York City as a whole. The city’s health department is working with local organizers to connect residents with preventative care so that they can get help before reaching a crisis point.

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Trump admin lets Florida opt out of controversial offshore drilling plans.

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New York City is taking BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to court.

People who lived through last year’s hurricanes may experience grief, anxiety, and depression for months or years, experts say.

“They’re grieving about the loss of what was,” Judith Andrews, co-chair of the Texas Psychological Association, told AP. Her organization provides free counseling to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Following a natural disaster, people experience an arc of emotional responses. This usually starts with a “heroic” phase, when people rise to the occasion to survive and help others, Andrews says. Then disillusionment sets in as people come to grips with a new reality post-disaster.

In Puerto Rico, calls to the health department’s emergency hotline for psychiatric crises have doubled following Hurricane Maria, and the number of suicides has also risen.“Hurricane Maria is probably the largest psychosocial disaster in the United States,” Joseph Prewitt-Diaz, the head of the American Red Cross’ mental health disaster response, told Grist.

Hurricanes can have long-term effects on mental health. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalizations in the Queens neighborhoods hit worst by the storm are nearly double that of New York City as a whole. The city’s health department is working with local organizers to connect residents with preventative care so that they can get help before reaching a crisis point.

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New York City is taking BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to court.

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Mainstream media sucks at talking about climate change.

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Mainstream media sucks at talking about climate change.

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Hurricane survivors are still dealing with the emotional toll of 2017’s horrific storms.

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Hurricane survivors are still dealing with the emotional toll of 2017’s horrific storms.

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3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

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The start of a new year is traditionally the time to reflect on the past and set goals to improve in the future. As you do so, consider setting some personal environmental goals to help you on your path to living a greener, healthier, more sustainable life. The three goals below are a great place to start.

Reduce Your Food Waste

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the average American household throws away $2,200 worth of food each year. Clearly, cutting back on food waste is something most of us could work on. Shopping smarter is the first step in reducing your food waste. Walking into the grocery store with no plan can be a big mistake. Without a plan, it’s easy to buy far more food than you’ll actually eat, or foods that you won’t eat all of, during a given week.

By planning effectively, you can buy exactly what you need without getting too much excess. Finding good recipes is a key component. Often, recipes will call for a small portion of something, such as half a bell pepper. As you plan your meals for a week, find recipes that use many of the same ingredients, so you won’t be left with extras. Don’t forget to visit the bulk bins, where you can get exactly the quantity you need of certain ingredients. And make sure you actually eat the leftovers, rather than watching them grow mold in the back of your refrigerator.

When you do have leftovers that don’t get eaten, a backyard composting heap can be an excellent way to reuse them. Composting can be done regardless of your yard size, and can even been done when you live in an apartment.

Decrease Time in the Car

Cutting back on time in a car can be a daunting task, especially if you’re one of the many people that has to commute to work each day. But there are a number of things you can do to reduce the mileage.

One, you could switch to public transit a few days each week if this is available in your area. Riding the train, subway, or bus may not always be convenient, but by doing it just a couple of days per week, you’ll make a significant impact over the course of a year.

Two, carpool with a coworker. I get it, carpooling can be a bit of a pain. You’re forced to work on someone else’s schedule and there’s no “swinging by the store” on your way home. But instead of carpooling every day, why not do it a few days each week? If you carpooled every Tuesday and Thursday, you’d reduce your driving and get to know your coworkers better.

Carpooling is cool! Photo: Adobe Stock

Three, work from home more. While not every employer is open to the idea of remote workers just yet, why not try easing your boss into it. See if you can work from home just once a week or even one day every other week. As they see your productivity unchanged, they may open up to letting you do so more often.

Cut Back on Consumption

The last goal I’ll list here for you to consider setting this year is to consume less. Every new item you buy requires resources to manufacture and transport. In many cases, these items will be used a limited number of times before ending up shoved into a closet or, even worse, in the trash.

When considering a purchase, first think about how much you’ll actually use it. If the answer is rarely, consider borrowing it from a neighbor or friend. You may not need a power sander regularly, but your neighbor may be willing to let you use his. Participating in the sharing economy can be an effective way to reduce your consumption. There are also many services that rent out equipment and items for short periods of time.

If it’s something you will use often, first consider buying it used. There are so many great ways to shop for used items these days, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for in good condition somewhere. If you do need/want to buy new, always strive to buy quality items. This is especially important when it comes to clothes and shoes. You may have to pay a bit more, but in the long run, it’s absolutely worth it.

While these three green goals are a great place to start, there are many more out there. What are some of your green goals for this new year?

3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

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3 Green Goals Worth Setting in 2018

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4 Tips for Going Solar in 2018

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Solar energy production has skyrocketed in recent years in the United States. With more than 49 megawatts of installed solar capacity, there are now enough solar panels to power 9.5 million homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Are you interested in getting on the solar bandwagon? Ultimately, determining if it is financially savvy to go solar depends on numerous factors, including the cost of electricity in your area, the price and output of the solar system, and available solar energy incentives.

Is 2018 a good year for you to go solar? Here are some tips on making an informed decision.

Understand Your Local Net Metering Laws

Net metering laws require power companies to bank excess credits for solar electricity fed to the utility grid for later use by the homeowner. For example, let’s say your solar panels generated 10 kWh of excess electricity for the grid during a sunny day and then you consumed 10 kWh of electricity at night. Under net metering laws, you would neither owe money nor be reimbursed for this power, given that you provided as much power as you later consumed.

In 2015, 43 states had net metering laws. Now, only 38 states do. In some areas, solar homeowners are not rewarded at a retail rate for the excess power they supply. Find out what the laws are in your state to better understand the return on investment of your solar system. In some areas where net metering laws are changing, existing solar system owners are grandfathered in under the old system. If the new rules haven’t taken effect yet, you still might be able to get compensated under the old, higher rate.

Consider Solar Equipment Warranties

Solar product warranties vary among manufacturers, and they are an important consideration before installing a solar system. Equipment warranties can protect you, making solar a safer long-term investment. Ask your solar installer or conduct independent research to determine product warranties, as they can vary widely by manufacturer and product. Recently, some manufacturers have been setting themselves apart by offering exceptional warranties.

Solar panel warranties, in particular, are an important consideration, as they are typically the most expensive equipment in your solar system. Over time, even the best solar panels produce less energy due to product degradation. Although all solar panels are less effective at generating electricity over time, the degradation rate varies by the panel. Performance guarantees help ensure that solar electric panels are producing at a certain percentage of their original generation capacity after a given number of years.

Currently, many manufacturers guarantee 90 percent production for 10 years and 80 percent for 25 years. Some panel manufacturers set themselves apart by offering stronger warranties. SunPower, for example, leads the industry by offering a 92 percent performance guarantee for 25 years.

Most solar panel manufacturers also protect against defects. Many solar panels have a 10-year equipment warranty on the integrity of the panel. Now, SunEdison, Solaria and SunPower solar panels have a 25-year equipment warranty.

Shop around when installing a solar system to find the best price, warranties and solar equipment quality. UnderstandSolar is an excellent free service that links solar shoppers with top-rated solar installers in their area for personalized solar estimates, and EnergySage allows you to make apple-to-apple comparisons.

Take Advantage of the Federal Tax Credit and Solar Incentives

There is a federal tax credit in effect that reduces the total net cost of a solar system by 30 percent! A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in federal income taxes owed, so it is more valuable to the taxpayer than a tax write-off.

If you install a $10,000 solar system, you can qualify for a $3,000 tax credit. This solar incentive will start scaling down in 2020. Keep in mind that some states or municipalities offer incentives for using solar.

Start with Energy-Efficiency Improvements

Although this is not a new development in 2018, it is important to consider whenever someone is going solar. Before sizing your solar system, look for ways to cut your home electricity use. Refrigerators, lighting, electric water heaters and air-conditioners are common electricity hogs. In many cases, it is worthwhile to replace old appliances with high-efficiency models.

Also, explore if you have any vampire loads that suck power even when appliances or electronics are turned off. Home entertainment and office equipment often continuously drain power. Smart power strips are a great solution to stop energy vampires in their tracks.

Consider Solar Loans

As the solar energy industry matures, there are now more solar loan products available than ever before. Solar loans make the most financial sense when the amount you pay on the loan is less than your monthly utility savings. This means that the loan allows you to save money on your solar system from day 1. Make sure to take the loan fees and interest into consideration. A home equity line of credit is another option, and the interest is likely tax-deductible.

Ultimately, the decision to go solar is multifaceted. Many homeowners choose solar because they want to do their part to help stop climate change or to wean themselves off of fossil fuels. Now that the cost of solar has dropped so much, many install solar systems merely for the cost savings. In much of the U.S., 2018 is a good year to go solar.

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4 Tips for Going Solar in 2018

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Predicting the Biggest Green Trend for 2018

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Although Kermit the Frog once sang, “It’s not easy being green,” over the past decade, it sure has been cool to live green.

Ever since An Inconvenient Truth debuted in 2006, there seems to be one eco-friendly product or innovation that takes the U.S. by storm each year and enters the mainstream. In many cases, it’s a product that has been around for years that becomes popular due to legislation, lower prices or a scientific health study.

Even without a crystal ball, we can look at some of the green trends that appear to be on the rise heading into 2018.

What Makes a Green Trend?

In order to identify which green trend is about to take off, it’s helpful to look back at how previous green trends came to play. Here are the biggest green trends since 2007 and the trigger that started each:

Year
Green Trend
Cause(s)
Impact
2007
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL)
Legislation, price
Highest U.S. CFL sales of all-time
2008
Proper disposal of medications
Scientific study
DEA starts national drug collection events
2009
Television recycling
Legislation
Consumers stop buying CRT screens and recycle old ones after digital switch
2010
Metal water bottles/ Bisphenol A (BPA)
Scientific study
Drop in reusable plastic water bottle sales due to BPA concerns
2011
Online shopping/
Cyber Monday
Price
Cyber Monday catches Black Friday for consumer interest in holiday shopping
2012
Hybrid/electric cars
Price
High gas prices, new models lead to 73 percent increase in hybrid sales over the previous year
2013
Fracking
Legislation, social media
New tech for acquiring natural gas leads to countless protests over environmental impact
2014
Farm-to-table food
General trend
Americans demand (and pay for) locally sourced foods
2015
Graywater
Legislation, natural disaster
California droughts make graywater a hot topic to water plants and grow crops
2016
Dakota Access Pipeline
Legislation, social media
Native American tribe protest goes viral on social media
2017
Flexitarianism
Scientific study
Documentaries like What the Health lead Americans to consider more plant-based diets

There’s no real pattern to discern from the past 11 years, other than the fact that these green trends were fueled by new laws, health studies, social media or a reduction in price. All of these circumstances are difficult to predict.

Candidates for 2018’s Greenest Trend

Before we crown a winner, here are a few contenders for the biggest green fad of 2018:

Companies embrace telecommuting: Yes, working from home already feels big, but only 3 percent of the U.S. workforce got to work from home in 2015. The environmental benefits are obvious, from reducing car emissions to limiting office waste. But companies are finally starting to see the cost savings in telecommuting, and as the unemployment rate falls, working remotely will be a top way to recruit new talent in industries like technology and health care. Expect to see fewer employees around the office next year, and for a positive reason.

Telecommuting will only rise in popularity in 2018. Photo: Adobe Stock

Emphasis on food product labeling: Consumers have already shown they want to know where their food comes from and its ingredients, but labels can tell so much more. The FDA will be requiring food manufacturers to print new nutrition labels starting in 2018 that provide a more accurate account of nutritional elements. Whole Foods has also announced that all its food products must provide genetically modified organisms (GMO) information on the label by September 2018. Expect to spend more time at the grocery store researching what goes in your body.

We’ll spend more time reading labels in the store in 2018. Photo: Adobe Stock

The solar revolution takes hold: Until recently, most of the investment in solar technology was restricted to commercial buildings and the richest homeowners. But the price of solar panels continues to fall, and it’s not just for buildings anymore. Some of the coolest innovations in electronics are due to solar power. Expect to see more solar-powered backpacks, watches and city trash cans, as Americans embrace the power of the sun.

Expect more roofs with solar panels this coming year. Photo: Adobe Stock

And the Winner Is . . .

Emphasis on food product labeling

This trend has everything consumers care about when it comes to green trends: government involvement, health concerns and even the price impact as health care cost increases necessitate better nutrition. Plus, in two of the past four years, the green trend was related to diet.

What do you think the big green trend will be this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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Predicting the Biggest Green Trend for 2018

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8 Green Tips for 8 Days of Hanukkah

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Happy Hanukkah! Running from today, Dec. 12, to Dec. 20 this year, Hanukkah is a holiday rooted in conservation — consider that a one-day supply of oil lasted a miraculous eight days. You can stretch your resources just as far by keeping these eight tips in mind for an eco-friendly celebration.

1. Burn clean candles.

Instead of candles made of petroleum-based paraffin wax, look for ones that use beeswax, soy or coconut.

2. Give gifts that are experiences.

The presents can really pile up when you have eight days of gift giving. Instead of adding more stuff to your life, give experience-based items like a cooking class or tickets to a sporting event. If your kids receive a lot of toys, have them choose one old toy to donate for each new one they get.

3. Reuse gift wrap.

Speaking of presents, the wrapping paper can really add up, too. Get creative by wrapping your gifts in reusable bags or other things you have around the house. Then save all the gift bags from this year to use for next year. If you do buy new gift wrap, choose a kind that’s recyclable.

4. Make just the right amount of food.

Leftovers can be great, but don’t cook so much that it ends up going to waste. You can figure out just what you need to make by using this waste-free dinner calculator.

5. Dispose of oil properly.

Ah, latkes. Those little potato pancakes go hand in hand with Hanukkah. When you’re done frying them in oil, don’t pour it down the drain! Here’s what to do instead.

6. Serve your meals on reusable dishes.

It might seem easier to buy some paper plates and plastic utensils if you’re hosting a big shindig, but using real plates and forks is the better choice.

7. Buy fair-trade chocolate.

Chocolate gelt — chocolate “coins” wrapped in gold and silver — is a fun tradition, but mass-produced chocolate does no favors for the environment. Look for fair-trade, ethically sourced options instead.

8. Avoid cheap plastic accessories.

Instead of buying little plastic dreidels and disposable menorahs, go for high-quality, handmade items. The up-front cost might be higher, but the environmental footprint, especially if the items are passed down through the generations, is much lower.

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8 Green Tips for 8 Days of Hanukkah

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7 Laundry Hacks That Save Time, Money and the Planet

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Laundry is a drain on the modern green household. It sucks up energy, water, and time — three things very precious to any eco-warrior. Fortunately, technology has some excellent solutions to our laundry problems. Here are seven laundry hacks that help you make sure your washer and dryer are doing their part for the planet.

1. Upgrade to an Energy Star Model

If your current washer and dryer are more than 10 years old, upgrading them will save you significant time doing your weekly laundry and also reduce your utility bills. Energy Star–rated washers can reduce your water use by 45 percent and your energy use by 25 percent. An Energy Star–rated dryer will save you around $245 in energy costs over its lifetime. If upgrading isn’t an option yet, be conscientious about using your current washer’s settings correctly. If you have water level settings, make sure to set your washer to the lowest one. If not, always use the correct load size setting — small for small loads, medium for medium loads, and so on. You could save more than 1,200 gallons of water per year.

2. Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water

Almost 90 percent of the energy a washer needs is used to heat water. If you wash your clothes in cold water, you’ll cut down your energy use significantly and save $66 or more a year on your energy bill, depending on the amount of laundry you do. New high-efficiency (HE) washers clean just as effectively with cold water. Make sure to use a specially designed HE laundry detergent.

3. Select the Fastest Spin Speed

Choose the fastest spin speed your washer (and your clothes) can handle. The faster the washer spins, the more water is whisked out of the load, and the less time it needs to spend in the dryer. Be sure to use this for towels, if nothing else.

4. Take Advantage of Sensor Features

Load and moisture sensors will intelligently adjust your washer and dryer cycles. Load sensing assesses each load you put in the washer and determines how much water is needed to clean it properly. Similarly, moisture sensors are more efficient than setting a timer on your dryer. These sensors can tell when your clothes are dry and stop the machine, reducing your dryer’s energy use by about 15 percent.

5. Opt for Models That Use Less Water

Traditional top-loading washing machines fill up the entire tub with water and rub clothes against the agitator in the middle of the tub. New top-loader models don’t have an agitator — they flip and spin clothes through a stream of water instead of filling the whole tub, which significantly reduces water usage. Front-loading washers tumble clothes to clean them instead of using an agitator. Either option is an eco-friendly choice that will reduce the amount of water you use to do laundry.

6. Turn Down the Dryer Heat

Longer drying cycles on a low heat setting use less energy. Be sure to clean the filter in between loads to keep the dryer in top working order.

7. Toss a Tennis Ball into the Dryer

This old-school trick really works. When you’re drying large, bulky items — such as down comforters, jackets, blankets or pillows — throw in a couple of new tennis balls with the load. The balls bounce around in the dryer to separate the waterlogged, heavy material, which reduces drying time and energy usage.

Follow these laundry hacks to take advantage of today’s washer and dryer features that save time, energy and water for a super-green laundry routine.

Jennifer Tuohy is an earth-conscious mom who writes for The Home Depot on a variety of green, tech, and parenting topics. She provides advice on easy, simple ways to be greener when doing your laundry. To see a selection of Energy Star-rated washers and dryer like the ones Jennifer mentions in this article, visit The Home Depot here

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7 Laundry Hacks That Save Time, Money and the Planet

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The 3 Holiday Plants You Have to Have

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You don’t have to have a green thumb — or be vegan — to delight in the presence of plants. Gardening and food consumption aside, household plants are pretty miraculous to have around due to their numerous superpowers. And what better time to take advantage than during the holidays, when we could all use as many superpowers as possible.

Health Benefits of Plants

Most of us realize the pluses of incorporating greenery in our indoor environments, including 20 percent less dust, according to a study by Washington State University. Besides magical fairy dusting and beautification of a space, plants can absorb up to 10 percent of carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air we breathe. Plants even reduce stress and boost morale when placed in offices, simultaneously reducing airborne bacteria.

Plants Improve Indoor Air Quality

What many people are unaware of is the fact that certain plants do all of the above while also removing toxic gases and chemical vapors commonly found in our indoor environments, according to studies by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Green building today is great for energy efficiency, but it’s not always so great for our health. In 1973, NASA realized that indoor air pollution in tightly sealed structures could present health-related problems. The Clean Air Study, led by Dr. B.C. Wolverton in conjunction with the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, discovered the miraculous benefits of 50 houseplants (three of them being holiday plants) that are exceptional little air scrubbers. These must be potted plants in soil and ideally, one should be placed every 100 feet for maximum air filtration benefits, as advised by NASA.

3 Holiday Plants that Remove Chemicals

Three popular holiday plants — the Poinsettia, the Norfolk Island Pine and the Christmas Cactus — work as natural, mini air purifiers. They provide an affordable defense by absorbing volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia, from the air through the tiny openings in their leaves (stomata) and their root microbes. Let’s take a closer look at each plant.

1. Poinsettia

You’ll recognize this holiday beauty from its bright, vibrant bracts (leaves). Ironically, it’s not the flower of this plant, rather the leaves, that are grown in pink, red, white, speckled or marbled. Discovered by Joel Poinsett in 1830 in Southern Mexico, this plant prefers semi-shade. It’s easy to grow and pretty resistant to insect infestation. Water when the top layer is dry.

2. Norfolk Island Pine

Photo: Adobe Stock

This evergreen often serves as a mini Christmas tree with a similar appeal. One variety, the heterophylla, is suitable for indoors and can grow up to 10 feet high! It was discovered by Captain Cook and botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The Norfolk Island Pine prefers full sun to semi-shade. Use water sparingly in the winter and mist often.

3. Christmas Cactus

Photo: Adobe Stock

This beautiful cactus with bright red buds blooms fully in December. Unlike most plants, this cactus removes CO2 and releases oxygen at night, making it a great plant for the bedroom. It prefers semi-sun and is highly resistant to insect infestation. Allow it to dry between waterings.

There you have it — the perfect holiday or housewarming gift. Your host or hostess will be breathing easier through the hustle and bustle while enjoying a more beautiful and relaxing home.

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The 3 Holiday Plants You Have to Have

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