A beginner’s guide to neonics & how they harm our bees 

You don’t need to be reminded about just how important bees are to our world. They are primary pollinators of many of the foods we eat day to day, including almonds, watermelon and oranges, pollinators of 90% of the world’s wild plants, and they contribute to the €265bn economic benefit of pollination.

It’s safe to say life would be pretty different without bees, and our world wouldn’t be as amazing as it is.

But they’re in danger. You may have heard that bees are in decline, with over 40 percent of U.S honeybee hives dying off each year, which is costing the farming and beekeeping industry more than €2bn a year.

There are a few reasons why bee numbers are falling – destruction of habitat, increase in disease, etc – but one of the major reasons is a type of pesticide called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short.

What are neonics?

Neonics are a group of systemic pesticides, meaning they’re absorbed by all parts of the plant, including pollen and nectar collected by bees. They’re used in soil drench, seed coating and sprayed onto crop foliage to deter pests, and they’re pretty good at doing it. However, they’re also very harmful to bees.

How do neonics harm bees?

When neonics get into bees’ systems they affect several parts of their body and behavior. The pesticides hinder their foraging behavior, and have a detrimental effect on homing ability, memory, breeding, communication, and their immune system, more often than not leading to paralysis and death. 

Some will tell you that there is not enough research to conclusively prove that neonics are responsible for bee deaths, but the evidence is mounting quite considerably, and it’s largely accepted that neonics are certainly not health for our bees.

What’s more, it’s estimated that only around 5% of the chemicals go into the crops, with 94% ending up in soil and water, and 1% released into the air. 


Should neonics be banned?

Well, yes they should, but it really depends on who you talk to. Funnily enough, many pharmaceutical companies are against a blanket ban, whereas environmental campaigners would like to see them banned completely.

Several types of neonics are already banned in many countries, but there are still lots of places around the world that have no restrictions in place whatsoever over which chemicals are used to treat crops. 

Over in Europe, the European Commission apparently plans to put further restrictions in place, proving that this is still an issue very much in flux.

Want more information about neonics? Take a look at the infographic below from UK company Sun Leisure which explains what neonics are, the impact they have, and possible alternatives in an easy to digest format.


Source: //cdn.thinglink.me/jse/embed.js

Simple Home Improvement that Creates a Sustainable Home to live 

Since the industrial revolution, societies have been driven to consume. The consumerist world exploded after the world wars and continued to expand to this day. Children are raised to do good in school, get a high paying job and live years of abundance. Material wealth has always been our standard of success.

Don’t you think it’s time for a change?
There’s an emerging movement that aims to challenge our perception of a successful life: minimalism. Minimalism, contrary to popular belief, is not a product of the 21st century. It’s in the core of many cultures in Asia. 

The Buddhist concept of Zen emphasizes on an individual’s consciousness of the self and its relations with nature. “Zen contends that physical nature and human nature must be sought in an experiential dimension practically trans-descending,” according to a paper published by Stanford University. Minimalists are upholding the Zen principle in various aspects of their life, from their decision-making behaviors to their lifestyle choices.

Sustainable living: a complete lifestyle shift


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Sustainable living is a way of life that involves reduced dependence on natural resources. It embodies the Zen principles of caring for nature and the ideals of minimalism. To live a sustainable life, you may need to make a significant shift in your mindset. “It is such a simple principle – and yet if it is extended to include all living beings (an essential component of sustainability), it requires a complete shift in how we live our lives. Because we do unto others all day long – through the clothes we buy, the energy we use, the food we eat, even the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. Every choice we make impacts others – through its creation, its distribution, its use and its disposal,” noted GlobalStewards.org.

Sustainability in your living space can be done in simple ways. If you’re new to the concept, you can start with the easiest steps. Here are some home improvement tips for a sustainable living.

Explore passive design strategies


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Passive architecture is the use of energy efficient designs to reduce ecological footprints. It includes daylighting, natural ventilation and solar energy. Daylighting simply means using sunshine to illuminate your space. You can create external reflection letting sunlight reflect from the flooring of your home, wide window sills, and light shelves. Internal reflection can be achieved allowing natural light to reflect from internal walls, ceiling and high reflectance surfaces. You can also apply light-colored finishes and mount mirrors to reflect light around your home. However, avoid high levels of direct sunlight that can cause glare and increase the need for cooling.

Passive cooling strategies involve energy efficient designs to control heat gain in spaces. These designs include ventilation, windows insulation, and shading. Remember that the cooling strategies you can apply in your home is determined by your climate. If you live in a tropical region, you may need year-round shading.

Create indoor green spaces

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Studies suggest that living near green spaces is good for one’s mental and physical health. Greenery has a therapeutic impact that helps reduce stress levels. Living in a neighborhood with parks and open spaces encourage an active and fit lifestyle. You can reap the benefits of green spaces by creating one inside your home. If you’re living in a tight condo space, you can install a vertical garden in the patio, kitchen, and even in the living room. There’s a wealth of creative condo garden tips you can check on Pinterest and other social media sites.

Houseplants offer a number of benefits. They can purify the air, cool down room temperature, provide supply for fresh vegetables and herbs, and decorate a space. The pothos plant can absorb toxins like formaldehyde from carpets and floor cleaning materials. The spider plant, which is usually displayed as hanging plants, also have air purifying qualities similar with dracaena and weeping fig. Other plants that can clean indoor air and have cooling effects include bamboo palm, boston fern, and aloe vera.

Go energy efficient with your appliances and gadgets


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A sustainable and minimalist lifestyle doesn’t mean that you should let go of the comforts of technology. It’s just a matter of choosing the right furnishings and appliances. Go only for appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings. When shopping for electronic devices, choose Energy Star-labeled products that can save up to 75% in power consumption. You can further cut down your energy consumption, and save on costs by using an advanced power strip. 

This reduces “vampire loads” or electricity wasted when appliances and gadgets are plugged in but unused. Vampire loads commonly occur in computers, kitchen appliances, and home entertainment systems.

For your computer, here are 3 no nonsense tips to go energy efficient:
Use your computer on low-power mode. This can save energy, and allows your equipment to run cooler and last longer

Turn off the switch on the power strip or surge protector if the plugged equipment is not in use 

Activate the power management feature on your computer. This will automatically put your screen into sleep mode after a period of inactivity

Take advantage of government-sponsored programs


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The US Department of Energy (DOE) developed a national rating system, the Home Energy Score, that assesses the energy efficiency of a home based on the architectural design and heating, cooling, and hot water systems. The agency offers financial incentives and financing programs that attain a high Home Energy Score. For solar energy systems, you can avail of a federal tax credit for 30% throughout 2019, 26% for 2020 and 22% for 2021. The taxpayer may claim the credit of qualified expenditures on an energy-saving system in a residential structure he owns in the United States. “Expenditures include labor costs for on-site preparation, assembly or original system installation, and for piping or wiring to interconnect a system to the home,” according to the DOE.

Sustainable living is a change in mindset and behavior. It involves simple, mundane decisions such as recycling plastic cups and major matters like shifting to a passive home design. You don’t need to rush in and change all your appliances tomorrow, but start in any way you can. Uncluttering your home can be your starting point.

Author: Emily Harper, Mother, Blogger and Owner of the Blog SecurityOcean.com

2017 Greenest Cities in America – WalletHub Study

With October being National Energy Awareness Month and New York recently becoming the first city to unveil a plan that upholds the Paris Climate Agreement among nearly 250 cities that pledged to do so, the personal-finance website WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2017’s Greenest Cities in America.

To determine which cities promote a “green” lifestyle, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 22 key indicators of environmental friendliness and sustainability. The data set ranges from greenhouse-gas emissions per capita to green job opportunities per capita to number of smart-energy policies and initiatives.

Greenest Cities in America
1 San Francisco, CA 
2 San Diego, CA 
3 Fremont, CA 
4 Honolulu, HI
5 San Jose, CA
6 Washington, DC 
7 Sacramento, CA 
8 Irvine, CA 
9 Portland, OR 
10 Oakland, CA 

Least Greenest Cities in America
91 Oklahoma City, OK
92 Cleveland, OH
93 Lexington-Fayette, KY
94 Toledo, OH
95 Tulsa, OK
96 St. Petersburg, FL
97 Louisville, KY
98 Jacksonville, FL
99 Baton Rouge, LA
100 Corpus Christi, TX

Best vs. Worst
Lubbock, Texas, has the lowest median air-quality index, 21, which is 4.3 times lower than in Riverside and San Bernardino, California, the cities with the highest at 90.

Anchorage, Alaska, has the most green space, 84.2 percent, which is 56.1 times more than in Hialeah, Florida, the city with the least at 1.5 percent.

Lubbock, Texas, has the lowest annual excess fuel consumption, 4.1 gallons per auto commuter, which is 8.5 times lower than in New York, Washington, as well as Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey, the cities with the highest, each at 35 gallons per auto commuter.

New York has the highest walk score, 89, which is four times higher than in Chesapeake, Virginia, the city with the lowest at 22.

Honolulu has the most farmers markets (per square root of population), 0.1197, which is 63 times more than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the fewest at 0.0019.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-green-cities/16246/

The Cost of Wasted Food Infographic

The global economy is producing more food than ever, yet an incredible 1/3 is being wasted. This is at a time when 7 million people are dying from malnutrition every year, and rich countries such as the UK have had to introduce food banks.

At a time when the global economy is producing more food and making a greater profit than at any time in history, one could be forgiven for thinking that the issue of feeding the global population is yesterday’s news. However, both in the UK and across the world, we are wasting more food than ever before. 

This infographic is to highlight awareness of an issue we can all help to change.

Cost of Wasted Food Infographic

Cost of Wasted Food Infographic, courtesy of Moneyguru.com

4 Ways Companies Are Helping the Environment

Many of the world’s top organizations are investing billions of dollars into environmentally sound processes and procedures. The consumer climate has changed, and customers are switching to green products. Buyers are paying closer attention to what they purchase and how it affects the environment, remaking the current marketplace of many industries for the better.

While this is great news for the environment and our future, switching over to green solutions has also become a sound financial investment. Here are four methods various companies and industries are using to be more sustainable and help the environment.

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Switching Out The Small Things
The easiest way to begin going green is to start small. Go around your office and switch out your regular light bulbs with LED bulbs or T8 lamps that might not to replace the ballast and/or fixtures. Switch out light switches with motion detector options. Include more in-office plants and shrubbery to improve the air quality of your office, and get your janitorial team to change from harsh chemicals to more natural and eco-friendly cleaning supplies.

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Go Green Lighting

Talk to your Human Resources Department to ensure a safe, non-toxic environment. Replace your vending machines and other unhealthy break room foods with sustainable brain food options. These include nuts, organic fruits and vegetables and health drinks. Eliminate your use of plastic bottles and other disposable tableware. Instead, encourage the use of plates, silverware and cups that can be cleaned and reused.

Going Paperless
Going paperless at the office might not seem viable but thanks to the today’s technology, paper is becoming more obsolete as the years go by. Email on its own has changed business communication forever, but with the invention and prevalence of smartphones and tablets, which are basically small computers, we can share and transfer information much more easily.

Rather than printing out document after document for our coworkers to read, we can go over business information on screens that fit in our pockets. Consider investing in a projector or large screen for company presentations as this can eliminate the need to pass out documents for people to use. Instead, you can keep everything digital and save trees.

Wind power
Source: Bloomberg

Embracing Innovation
Levi’s have begun selling jeans made from recycled plastic bottles. General Electric’s “Ecomagination” business strategy is boosting the energy production via wind farms by 20%. New commercial jet turbines are under development that are intended to cut fuel burn and carbon emissions by more than 10%. And unless you have been living underneath a rock for the last decade, you know about the surge of the electric car industry.

All of these inventions and ideas are reshaping age-old industries and bringing them into the future. Part of the reason for this surge of innovation and improvement is the fact that companies are making green thinking a part of company culture. Instead of seeing nature as something separate from industry, environmentalism has become an inspiration for invention and investment.

Changing Traditional Business Ideas
Believe it or not, some companies are persuading their customer base to buy less of their product. It’s called green purchase behavior or green purchasing and it goes against every established business practice ever conceived. The idea encourages consumers to consider the environmental impact of their purchases, including usage and disposal. While the notion contradicts traditional retail models, it fosters corporate responsibility for future developments and investments.

These are only a few examples of the change in corporate culture in connection to the environment and the future of the planet. While there are still many issues involving pollution and waste within the business world, change is occurring and gaining speed thanks to shifts in the consumer marketplace.