Monthly Archives: March 2017

Day 68: Reduce your food scraps

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Drying dates in Egpyt. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Being ecological is sometimes synonymous with being economic. Turning off appliances when you’re not using them, using less water and heat, and walking instead of driving are all actions that favor both your wallet and the environment. Finding a use for food scraps is one of those cases where you can cut corners on spending and also reduce your total waste.  Continue reading

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Day 67: No Impact Man

 

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Can you imagine what life would be like if you lived it so that none of your actions had an impact on the environment? It would have to be pretty crazy, right? Well, wonder no longer – someone’s tried that. No Impact Man is a book + movie about a guy who decided to live off the grid and tailor all of his actions so that he didn’t leave an impact on the environment. Not only did he try this experiment for a year – but he did it with his wife and toddler, in the middle of New York City.

No Impact Man is a hilarious story that has eco-lessons for all of us. It takes a crazy story like Colin’s to capture our attention and realize that a lot that has to do with sustainability is actually within our reach: like buying local food, commuting by bike (or skateboard?) and washing your clothes in the tub. It also shows the perspective of an Earth-savior battling through the 21st century (Colin) and the perspective of someone who’s not all that crazy and just wants to go through the motions of life without harming the environment too much in the process (Colin’s wife). Part of the reason I love this book so much is because of it shows the dynamics of Earth-saving between people, social interactions, media, and family.

This true story is certainly inspiring and encouraging to everyone who is crazy enough to think they can change the world. It’s available in book format (Colin’s perspective) or in a documentary (shows everyone’s perspective and interviews). Both are worth taking a look at in my opinion because they show different mentalities and philosophies. I’d love to have the chance to see what life would be like if no one had an impact on the environment, and Colin’s experiment shows us just how real (or not, I’m not spoiling the end!) that can be. It’s a must-read for Earth-saviors and for those who are interested in a good, true, and somewhat moralizing story.

 

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Day 65: The Carbon cycle – The Impacts (Part 3)

Disrupting the carbon cycle has serious impacts on the planet. Something as “little” as offsetting the natural flow of carbon affects everything that is linked to carbon (in other words, all life on Earth). Let’s take a look at how pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the ocean impact the planet. Continue reading

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Day 64: The Carbon Cycle – how do humans affect it? (Part 2)

Like I mentioned in Part 1, the scary part about analyzing the carbon cycle is realizing how much humans are affecting it. If we look at the diagram of the carbon cycle, one of the ways carbon transits from sphere to sphere is from the subsurface (fossil fuels) to the surface by extraction, then to the atmosphere by burning the fossil fuels. The atmosphere also exchanges with the hydrosphere, so part of the carbon that we burn is then absorbed by the ocean. Continue reading

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Day 63: The Carbon Cycle (Part 1)

The image below represents the carbon cycle,  one of my favorite cycles. Carbon is one of the elements responsible for life – it is so important for life that often compounds containing carbon are called “organic”.  This is how carbon transits through the  geosphere, the hydrosphere, and the atmosphere.

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Source: University of New Hampshire, 2008

The scary part about the carbon cycle is how much we, humans and living organisms, are actually affecting the carbon cycle. We’re actually transforming the roles some of the spheres play in the carbon cycle.  To help you understand how carbon is transiting through these spheres and what role we play in it, here are some questions to think about.

How much is the atmosphere absorbing?

How much is the atmosphere emitting?

How much is the ocean absorbing?

How much is the ocean emitting?

How much is the geosphere absorbing?

How much is the geosphere emitting?

Which sphere(s) act as a carbon sink (absorbing more than it emits)?

Which sphere(s) act as a carbon source (emitting more than it absorbs)?

With these questions, you can see for yourself how the natural flow of carbon circles and how we impact this cycle. If you didn’t get it, stay tuned for Part 2!

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Day 62: Plan ahead

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An eroded iceberg in Greenland. If all the ice in Greenland melted, the oceans would rise by seven meters. Source: Yann Arthus-Bertrand

A lot of the world’s problems came to be because…well…people didn’t plan ahead. Continue reading

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Day 61: Rise and shine with the sun!

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Sunrise seen from 175 miles above the Earth. Source: NASA, 1996

Happy March! As sun begins to rise earlier, I find myself not using the light switch as much in the morning. Not only is it nice to walk to my car in a sunlit road instead of groping my way through the dark – it saves electricity!

As the sun rises even earlier, we should take advantage of the available sunlight and rise earlier with the sun to perform our daily tasks using the natural light that’s available, instead of artificial light. Getting up early to use more natural light is compensated of course by going to sleep earlier and using less electricity at night. This is where the idea of Daylight Savings  (the period of time where our clocks jump forward to accomodate the sunlight) was born. Adapting one’s schedule to use more sunlight and less electricity makes complete sense for an Earth-savior. Here’s why:

  • Using more sunlight and saving electricity is good for the planet because it means using less fossil fuels and producing less CO2.
  • Natural light has Vitamin D and more good stuff than artificial light, like the ones that come from computers that don’t let us sleep at night.
  • Regulating your body clock to use more natural sunlight fixes insomnia as your body begins to release more melatonin (a hormone that induces sleep) when the sun sets. This happens if you’re in tune with the sun, and not bombarded with other light  sources after the sun sets, like from electronics. It also helps you to wake up when your body perceives sun rays in the morning.
  • Sunlight is good for your emotional and mental well-being (for example, lack of sunlight is related to higher suicide rates)
  • Rising with the sun allows you to listen to the birds more – if you love birds, this is an extra benefit.
  • If you pay your own electricity bill, you’ll notice the difference too – getting up with the sun is cheaper, too!

 

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