9 Tips for a Waste-Free Party

Your birthday or someone very special is coming, and you’re going to throw a party? Yay! But have you thought about how to minimize waste in the organization of the event? You can plan a super party without garbage and debris! Check out the tips here!

1) Forget the Balloons!

Use colored ribbons that can be reused over the years. They are beautiful and give a lot of life to the environment. A decoration made with handmade or reusable items gives a special touch to the party.

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2) Do Not Exaggerate the Feast

Calculate the number of people coming and the amount of food needed. When in doubt, it is better to estimate a little down than a pile-up because the leftovers are often lost in the end and result in waste. Don’t forget that many children start eating a dish, but don’t finish it. The good idea is to make small amounts of varied dishes. Finally, if you have to buy ingredients in supermarkets, choose ingredients with recyclable packaging and preferably with the I-recycling seal.

3) Choose Reusable Cups, Plates, and Cutlery

Ask family and friends to lend you some extras if necessary. This way, you save money and don’t generate a pile of garbage at the party’s end. When it comes to napkins, fabric napkins are always the best option! A small and seemingly insignificant object, like a napkin, can have a considerable impact on the environment. For instance, if 50% of the American population used one paper napkin three times a day per meal, over one year only, 164,250,000 (yes billion) napkins would be used!

4) Reuse Candles From Previous Parties

The candles on a cake are the center of attention for a few seconds. After they are lit, they still have a lot of life left in them. Reuse them on other occasions!

5) Make Confetti From Leaves

Did you know that confetti is a super polluter? Confetti is often made of paper, but it is also regularly made of plastic. This plastic can end up in the environment after being discarded. A sustainable and festive alternative is to make confetti from leaves yourself. Collect a pile of sturdy leaves and start (with the children) with a punch. Don’t forget the Christmas lights. This ensures a festive and welcoming atmosphere, even if it’s not Christmas.

6) Ask Guests to Reduce the Packaging and the Cards They Buy

The amount of waste the guests produce is surprising. To wrap a gift, only a sheet and a bow, preferably cellophane (since it is recyclable), are enough.

7) Avoid Outdoor Parties

Yes, there won’t be any waste for you, but the amount of waste generated by an out-of-home party is massive. If for some reason you want to do it anyway, a picnic in a park is better. It’s a fun option, and with good planning, it can also be waste-free!

8)Buy or Make Games That Can Be Reused

Reuse toys, milk cartons, boxes, and other things to make games and treasure hunts. The kids will love it! Moreover, you can save them from being used in a new game next year!

9) Don’t Waste Time and Money on Souvenir Bags

Most « souvenirs » are plastic garbage that ends up in a landfill, such as candy, lollipops, and chocolates. Instead, give your guests a piece of cake to take home with them. If you want something more elaborate, give seed and a vase for your guests to plant at home. It will be much more original!

With these tips, you can keep festive waste to a minimum and have more fun!

The 6 Greenest Cities in the World

With a mass of people, a lot of fumes, and piles of rubbish, big cities are not precisely known for their positive contribution to environmental protection. However, many cities also contribute well to ecological protection compared to the large polluters. Here are 6 of the greenest cities of the world:

1) Freiburg, Germany

Perhaps not for every city globally, but certainly for Freiburg: this city is entirely car-free. The city has been creating a more sustainable environment since 1970, and this process is bearing fruit. Waste disposal in Freiburg has been reduced by 90,000 tonnes in just 12 years. The German city has set several targets: in 2007, it was agreed that CO2 emissions must be reduced by 40% by 2030, and in 2014 the target will be increased to 50%. The city now wants 100% renewable energy.

2) Reykjavik, Iceland

The Icelandic city is determined to live entirely without fossil fuels by 2050. That will probably be the case. Geothermal heat, also known as geothermal energy, already supplies power to all buildings in the city. Around 0.01% of electricity in Iceland is produced from fossil fuels. According to The Huffington Post, Reykjavik takes the dough for green life, being the first city to live almost entirely on green energy.

3) Oslo, Norway

Last year the Oslo Government announced that it wants to ban all cars in the city within four years, and with this plan, it intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Eighty percent of Oslo’s heating system is based on renewable energy, and the city’s objective is to increase this percentage to 100 percent. Besides, the Norwegian town has a system that converts household waste into recyclable energy. Norway wants to be fully CO2-neutral by 2030, the chances of success are reasonable, given the successful adaptations of recent times.

4) Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba is an excellent example of how a large, growing city can be and remain sustainable. Although Curitiba has almost two million inhabitants, the government works hard to create green areas such as parks and gardens. Besides, public transport in the Brazilian city is called a real revolution in transportation: buses run the same system like the metro, with fixed prices, lanes, and buses departing several times an hour. Around 72% of the city’s inhabitants use buses instead of their transport, which means much less air pollution. More than 1.5 million trees have recently been planted in the town, and more than 50 percent of paper, metal, glass, and plastic are recycled. The government stimulates this by rewarding residents who give away waste with vegetables or bus tickets.

 

5) Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen wants to be entirely CO2-neutral by 2025, with its dedicated inhabitants, clean water, and plenty of greenery, which certainly seems feasible. The city has an offshore wind farm along the coast and began building a new metro system in 2000, which improves public transport. In addition, Copenhagen is known for making bicycles available free of charge to the city’s residents, so only 25% of Copenhagen’s households have a car.

6) Vienna, Austria

Vienna is an example of being the greenest city in the world. Moreover, it ranks first in the ranking of the « greenest » metropolises. Vienna is a leader in the following disciplines:

  • Parks and local recreational areas at every turn – half of the city is green.
  • Public transport in Vienna will take you everywhere. This is why every second inhabitant of Vienna uses it.
  • The recycling and composting programs are top-notch: 30% of the city’s energy needs come from renewable sources.
  • Sorting waste can also be stylish: In Vienna, energy is also an art.
  • Local agricultural markets provide the city with the best groceries.

What are your thoughts about these cities? Share it with us in the comments below!

Is Living Off-Grid Truly Sustainable?

Are you worried about rising global temperatures and climate change? You’re not the only one. With a growing frustration towards the fact fossil fuels still account for over 80% of the world’s energy consumption, more and more households are switching to the combination of solar-battery storage systems. However, the question still remains: Is going off-grid truly sustainable in the long-run?

As renewable energy becomes more prevalent and affordable, a vast majority of people are disconnecting from the grid and adopting a more eco-friendly lifestyle – particularly in rural areas where the cost to connect to the grid is high. Nevertheless, this trend doesn’t seem to have taken off with the city-dwelling crowd, where the home-field advantage the grid has over emerging technologies in terms of affordability and reliability greatly outweighs the satisfaction of being green. After all, if you were told to choose between your TV, fridge and washing machine or going green, how many people would give up their comforts? Also, solar batteries these days last about 10 years before needing to be replaced (and more often than not are discarded rather than recycled). With the carbon impact of manufacturing, supplying and disposing of these batteries – how environmentally friendly is this process really?

This is not to say that those living on the grid are not concerned with climate change, and that they are not taking steps to reduce their carbon footprints. Households all over the world are switching to energy-efficient appliances and home designs to prevent resource wastage, which has resulted in utility companies having to change their strategies or perish.

Speaking of energy companies themselves, the smartest amongst them have gone back to the drawing board in an attempt to move with the times. After all, it is common knowledge that if they continue down the same path, their assets risk becoming white elephants – worthless and redundant. After all, people are likely to continue installing solar cells, even as government subsidies reduce, until such time as the grid is completely emissions-free, or at least as close to it as possible. Therefore, it is in the companies’ best interests to stop using fossil fuels, thereby limiting the incentive for people to switch away from the grid.

If you’re looking for examples of companies that have learnt from the current market trends and subscribe to the idea that household renewable assets needn’t always be consumer-owned, consider SolarCity, who provide solar panels that you can lease rather than buy. They have given a clear answer to the question of whether energy utilities should focus on looking for ways to work with start-ups to facilitate the roll-out of solar and storage at scale with an empathic yes.

And who said that the renewable energy generated by each household can’t be shared? Imagine subscribing to energy via a sharing platform and using an app to trade energy with other people and businesses. To make this future smart city scenario possible, we need to continue to invest in emerging technologies, to commercialize the ones that show promise, and to optimize the ones we already know work well. Tesla’s PowerWall is today’s high-profile home battery storage product, but there’s no shortage of players lining up to compete, ultimately putting downward pressure on costs, which will drive further mass-market appeal and adoption of these smart solutions.

And let’s not forget the power of joint effort. We need only look at today’s smartest cities for inspiration. The successful citizen solar power plants initiative, a joint effort between Wien Energy and the city of Vienna, Austria, has offered locals the opportunity to invest in the city’s solar plants to help achieve its renewable energy objectives.

The switch to renewable energy has already been flicked. Smart utilities that are willing to drive change toward a cleaner future will prosper – but it’s going to take breaking a lot of old habits to sustain.

Want to share your views on sustainable issues and living off-grid? Drop us a line in the comments below.

Is Veganism Truly Sustainable?

Go vegan, they said. Save the world, they said. But is the plant-based diet as good for the environment as we’ve been told? A group of researchers has recently published a study in which they describe various biophysical simulation models that compare 10 eating patterns: the vegan diet, two vegetarian diets (one that includes dairy, the other dairy and eggs), four omnivorous diets (with varying degrees of vegetarian influence), one low in fats and sugars, and one similar to modern American dietary patterns.

What they found was that the carrying capacity—the size of the population that can be supported indefinitely by the resources of an ecosystem—of the vegan diet is actually less substantial than two of the vegetarian diets and two out of the four omnivorous diets they studied.

The Price of Veganism

The number of vegans has increased 160 per cent over the past 10 years, but people need to be asking “where has this food come from” as they fill their shopping baskets with the fruits of the world: pomegranates and mangos from India, lentils from Canada, beans from Brazil, blueberries from the US and goji berries from China. Eating lamb chops that come from a farm a few miles down the road is much better for the environment than eating an avocado that has travelled from the other side of the world.

As we greedily plunder the world’s bread basket, it’s the consumer who benefits, while those at the source can be left high and dry. Take avocados and quinoa, whose prices have been pushed up so much by Western demand that they’ve become unaffordable to those who depend on them in their country of origin.

Rather than being seduced by exhortations to eat more products made from industrially grown soya, maize and grains, we should be encouraging sustainable forms of meat and dairy production based on traditional rotational systems, permanent pasture and conservation grazing. We should, at the very least, question the ethics of driving up demand for crops that require high inputs of fertilizer, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides, while demonizing sustainable forms of livestock farming that can restore soils and biodiversity, and sequester carbon.

Not only does this system of natural grazing aid the environment in terms of soil restoration, biodiversity, pollinating insects, water quality and flood mitigation – but it also guarantees healthy lives for the animals, and they in turn produce meat that is healthy for us. In direct contrast to grain-fed and grain-finished meat from intensive systems, wholly pasture-fed meat is high in beta carotene, calcium, selenium, magnesium and potassium and vitamins E and B, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – a powerful anti-carcinogen. It is also high in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is vital for human brain development but extremely difficult for vegans to obtain.

Much has been made of the methane emissions of livestock, but these are lower in biodiverse pasture systems that include wild plants such as angelica, common fumitory, shepherd’s purse and bird’s-foot trefoil because they contain fumaric acid – a compound that reduces emissions of methane by 70%, according to reliable studies.

In the vegan equation, by contrast, the carbon cost of ploughing is rarely considered. Since the industrial revolution, up to 70% of the carbon in our cultivated soils has been lost to the atmosphere. So there’s a huge responsibility here: unless you’re sourcing your vegan products specifically from organic, “no-dig” systems, you are actively participating in the destruction of soil biota, promoting a system that deprives other species, including small mammals, birds and reptiles, of the conditions for life, and significantly contributing to climate change.

There’s no question we should all be eating far less meat, and calls for an end to high-carbon, polluting, unethical, intensive forms of grain-fed meat production are commendable. But if your concerns as a vegan are the environment, animal welfare and your own health, then it’s no longer possible to pretend that these are all met simply by giving up meat and dairy. Counterintuitive as it may seem, adding the occasional organic, pasture-fed steak to your diet could be the right way to square the circle.

6 Habits to Adopt for a More Sustainable Life

Our daily life choices affect the environment, the climate, and other species. From what we choose to consume to our family size, we can do a lot to « choose nature » and help decrease our footprint’s negative impacts and leave room for a more sustainable life.

1) Think Twice Before You Shop

« Reduce, reuse, recycle » may sound archaic, but it’s just as relevant today as it was when the term was coined. Each product we purchase has an enviromental footprint, from the materials we use to make it to the pollution released when the packaging goes to landfill. So before you buy, ask yourself if the product is necessary. If it is, consider buying a used product rather than a new one, and aim for minimal packaging and transportation.

2) Go Plastic Free

Billions of pounds of plastics are now found in the swirling convergences that make up about 40% of the world’s ocean surfaces. Annually, thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals, and other marine mammals are killed after being entangled in plastic. You can begin reducing your plastic waste by following these simple steps: use reusable bags when shopping, avoid single-use water bottles, bags, and straws, and avoid products made or packaged in plastic as much as possible (for example, choose unpackaged products at the grocery store, shop locally, reduce online shopping).

3) Grow Your Own Products

By growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can ensure that no pesticides or other harmful substances that contribute to water and air pollution are utilized. This will also cut down on the quantity of fossil fuels used to move products to supermarkets.

4) Don’t Waste Water

Avoid drinking bottled water. Bottled water companies try to sell tap water, even if it usually be free. Many city water products have won quality and taste tests compared to branded water. The extraction of water and the manufacturing of all these plastic bottles is a known detriment to communities and wildlife. Conserving water is also vital, primarily because our growing population is placing an increasing demands on the country’s water sources, and we are experiencing more droughts than ever before. You can save water by taking shorter showers, repairing leaky toilets, and choosing low-flow, water-efficient appliances. You can also consider xeriscaping your yard, a landscaping technique that uses native plants adapted to drought conditions, require less water and maintenance over time, and provide habitat and food for birds and bees.

5) Choose to Have a Small Family

Now is the time to talk about the rapid increase in the human population, the species extinction crisis, and the type of future we need for wildlife, the planet, and ourselves. With more than 7.5 billion people globally, and more every day, our need for food, water, land, and fossil fuels drives other species to extinction. Thus, having fewer children would be a wise choice. We can achieve an environmentally sustainable population in a way that promotes human rights; reduce poverty and overpopulation; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals, and the protected to thrive.

6) Drive Less

By altering your driving habits, you have the power to lower your carbon footprint. Walk, bike, carpool or use public transit whenever possible. Combine classes to make fewer trips. Participate in car-free days or organize car-free days in your neighbourhood. Keeping your car in good condition through regular tune-ups and tire inflation is also crucial. Regular tune-ups can improve your fuel efficiency by 4-40%, and if people keep their tires inflated, fuel consumption can be reduced by 2% across a country.

By following these simple habits, you can make a big difference!

Tips in Green Living

Moving towards an environmentally friendly lifestyle can help improve your health and your life in general, and it is also a major asset for the world around you. Eliminating unnecessary chemicals, unhealthy foods, earth-unfriendly practices and bad habits can add up to make you healthier, while at the same time boosting the environment and the ecosystem. Wherever you are in the world, the following 8 tips are all achievable. Some of them are even great fun! Treat yourself, as we all fight for a greener future.

1. Get a high efficiency shower-head A high efficiency shower-head can save up to 3,000 gallons of water per person per year. You will also save $50 in energy costs and 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per person per year. Shower-heads are specially designed to conserve resources while providing a luxurious shower. Accessories for sinks and aerators also save large amounts of water and are very inexpensive.

2. Recycle water in your bathroom Use devices that allow you to reuse water from the sink to flush your toilet. You can also keep a bucket near the shower or bathtub and fill it with cold water from the sink before the hot water kicks in. Then take the bucket outside and use it to water your plants.

3. Compost Use a compost bin to turn your food and lawn waste into a rich mulch. It’s a great way to reduce your waste production, and next year you’ll have a rich compost ready to be planted in the spring.

4. Buy green power from your utility Most utilities charge less than $5 per month extra. Not only will your energy come from a renewable source, but you will use your spending control to show utility executives and government officials that we need more investment in renewable energy projects.

5. Improving the efficiency of your tankless and solar water heaters is all well and good, but simple modifications to your existing installation can reduce your energy bills and carbon emissions by 25% or more. Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees, wrap it in an insulating water heater blanket and insulate the first 3 to 6 feet of hot and cold water piping. These inexpensive changes should take less than an hour.

6. Use high-efficiency outdoor lighting A typical 100-watt spotlight, if used six hours a day, can use up to $40 worth of electricity over a year and produce more than 400 pounds of carbon dioxide, depending on where you live. To get started, replace these projectors with compact fluorescent versions, which are just as bright and consume a quarter of the energy. Next, replace the low-energy halogen landscape bulbs with LED versions. They reduce energy consumption by more than 80% and can last for ten years or more. Finally, install motion detectors on non-essential lights. The new versions screw directly into the socket of your existing luminary.

7. 7. Replace heavy-duty indoor lights with compact fluorescent or LEDs With high-quality light, sizes to fit almost any luminary and dimmable versions, compact fluorescent have it all. They are more expensive than standard light bulbs, but between the energy savings and their much longer service life, they pay for themselves in less than two years. And think about LED bulbs for non-dimmable circuits (especially for vacation lighting). They are real energy wasters and will last as long as you live in your home.

8. Load the washing machines Make sure to run the dishwasher and washing machines only when they are full. Clothes washers consume a lot of energy and water, so be sure to do full loads (or adjust the water setting) whenever possible. And most of us use much more water (and soap) than we need to wash dishes by hand, especially when compared to high-efficiency Energy Star dishwashers. So save your time, water and energy by putting these dishes directly in the dishwasher after a meal.