Tag: FOTE

Energy ConservationEnvironmental News

HEALTH BENEFIT OF CONNECTING WITH NATURE

The health benefits of spending time in nature are massive. Some of these benefits relate to our physical health, demonstrating time outside has direct impacts on health measures such as blood pressure, heart rate, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. A large part of these benefits has to do with the physical activities that happen in green spaces, such as walking, hiking, team sports, and more.

Studies have shown that after being exposed to a stressful situation, viewing a nature scene or being in nature can actually help lower the physiological effects of stress such as heart rate, muscle tension, and pulse transit times. Additionally, research in prisons shows that inmates with cell windows with views of the natural world had lower rates of digestive illnesses, headaches, and had fewer sick calls overall. The stress-reducing health benefits of nature also extend to the workplace. Employees with a view of nature perceive lower levels of job stress and higher levels of job satisfaction

Humans elicit positive psychological responses to nature, which involve feelings of pleasure, sustained attention or interest, feeling a “relaxed wakefulness,” and a decrease of negative emotions such as anger and anxiety. All of these effects can be beneficial in our professional and academic environments, as well as our personal lives.

When a person is exposed to nature, the brain is better able to relieve itself of “excess” circulation (or activity) and nervous system activation is reduced, allowing us to feel relaxed and present. Additionally, experience with nature can help strengthen the activities of the right hemisphere of the brain, and help restore harmony to the brain as a whole.

After hours of sitting behind a desk or in front of a computer, it can be pretty easy to feel drained and tired. However, research has shown that exposure to nature can help promote a sense of natural fascination and curiosity, which can help increase creativity.

Viewing natural scenic areas may actually reduce the physiological effects of stress. Patients in hospitals with access to view natural scenery show increased recovery rates, had better evaluations from nurses, required fewer pain killers, and had less post-operative complications compared to those who viewed urban scenes.

When given a choice, people prefer natural environments (particularly those with natural water features, large old trees, intact vegetation, or minimal human influence) to urban ones. This period, take your friends, your loved ones, or just yourself and enjoy all the outdoor wonders of nature!

 

 

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THE BLACK AND WHITE OF TEA BAGS

You would probably be surprised to learn that most tea bags contain up to 25% plastics. The main reason for this is that in order for the tea bags to seal up and keep their shape in hot liquid, a plastic polymer, namely polypropylene, must be added. This is usually so that the tea bag is held in a  shape, which producers claim helps the tea leaves infuse better. Even though the amounts of plastic found in tea bags is minimal and vary between manufacturers it adds up to quite a bit when you look at the big picture.

Due to the plastic content, conventional tea bags cannot completely decompose. This makes them a bad option for compost material and the environment… not to mention your body.

Recent research from McGill University in Canada also found that most types of tea bags leak millions of plastic particles into our drinks not only from the sealing plastic but from the bag itself. Microplastics have widely been found in the environment, in tap and bottled waters, and in some foods. A new study has found that a single plastic teabag steeped at a brewing temperature of 95 degrees Celsius releases around 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastics into a single cup

Most tea bags are made of thin and permeable papers and are not biodegradable. They contain harmful chemicals. The package and material can pollute the environment significantly.

However, it is not all doom and gloom with teabags.

There are few ways to recycle tea bags, including re-soaking used tea bags. This tea-enhanced water actually provides some nutrients if you use it to water your plants.  You can also break open the bag and sprinkle the wet leaves around potted plants for a similar effect.

Used tea bags can also be a great way to keep your glass and mirrors clean. Simply wipe the mirror or glass pane with a moist, used tea bag and dry with a soft cloth.

Leftover tea can even refresh your skin. Add a few used tea bags to a bowl of hot water and hold your head above the steam to moisturize your face. The same idea can be used to calm tired feet, too. Simply add the used tea bags and warm water to a soaking basin, immerse your feet, and relax.

So what do you do with your used tea bags?

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UNFAMILIAR MATTERS ON GLITTERS

Glitter is the icing on the cake of the craft and makeup world. Made of tiny pieces of plastic bonded with aluminum, glitters are quite charming but dangerous.

According to scientific research, glitters are hazardous to the environment; especially the world’s ocean. When washed down the drain they become a subset of marine plastic litter known as micro-plastic.

It usually takes four weeks to degrade. However, the degrading process varies and depends on the size, environment and other factors such as heat.

Most glitters do not degrade in clean water as it takes microorganisms to start the degrading process.

The safest way to dispose of these fanciful plastics is to permanently glue it to something you plan to hold on to for a long time. They should not be washed down the sink.

For a greener alternative, salt glitters (which basically involves the use of food coloring and salt) could be used as a substitute for plastic glitters.

 

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SANITATION AND HYGIENE

Sanitation and hygiene are critical to health, survival and development.
Many countries are challenged in providing adequate sanitation for their entire populations, leaving people at risk for water.

Throughout the world, an estimated 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation (more than 32% of the world’s population).
Basic sanitation is described as having access to facilities for the safe disposal of human waste (feces and urine), as well as having the ability to maintain hygienic conditions, industrial or hazardous waste management, and wastewater treatment and disposal.

The importance of sanitation and good hygiene cannot be overemphasized.
A healthy environment helps protect women and children from communicable diseases.
Around the world, over 800 children under age five die everyday from preventable diseases; diarrhea related diseases caused by lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene.

This can be combated through a healthy lifestyle and habitual sanitation.

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HUAWEI IDP INTERVENTION REPORT

It is December, just when the wind was getting chilly, with most people taking a deserved break from work to travel and be with loved ones. When the exchange of gifts becomes commonplace, it’s quite easy to overlook a few things, especially those that matter.

But, in the spirit of giving and community awareness, HUAWEI teamed up with Friends of the Environment (FOTE) to show love and care for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Abuja.

Nigeria is ranked 8th among the 9 countries in the world with the highest number of displaced persons (1.2million) and 4th in Africa, trailing DR Congo, Sudan and South Sudan.

IDPs are simply people who are on the run from home, facing, as in the case of Nigeria, multi-faceted complex and often over-lapping issues like insurgency, communal conflicts, flooding and violence between pastoralists and farmers.

These people flee from their homes in search of basic human needs, food, shelter and clothing; and they live in little colonies or camps with aid from the government, organizations and individuals.

Huawei, showing a high level of social responsibility and empathy, visited two IDP camps namely Area One IDP Camp and New Kuchingoro IDP Camp with a combined population of just a little over 4,200 persons.

The donations made to the camps comprised solar lamps in particular, food items, clothing, and sanitary pads for women.

Speaking at the handover of the items, the Huawei representative reiterated their commitment to connect with people, not just on a technological level but also on the human and humane level.

While socially responsible organizations are reaching out to help IDPs, the surface in reality has barely been scratched. The Chairman of the New Kuchingoro IDP Camp remarked with glee that this was the first time they were receiving any form of aid since 2014.

According to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), in the first half of 2019, about 142,000 new displacements were recorded in Nigeria, 140,000 by conflict and 2,000 by disasters.

Huawei has a tradition of caring for the less privileged, and it would go a long way if other organization would set their moral compass right and take a cue from the Asian tech giants.

Friends of the Environment remains committed to advocacy for the needy in society, while ensuring the use and application of energy efficient tools and practices at home and in the workplace.

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Nestlé Nigeria and Wecyclers To Tackle Waste Pollution In Lagos

There is growing concern around the quantity of plastic waste entering the natural environment, harming wildlife and damaging ecosystems globally. It is estimated that 70% of all ocean litter is plastic. The environmental impact is so enormous that the United Nations (UN) has described it as a planetary crisis that is causing irreparable damage. In Nigeria, we see the problem growing all around us. Due to the increasing usage and indiscriminate disposal of single use plastics, we are witnessing a surge in plastic waste pollution. Lagos alone produces about 10,000 metric tonnes  of waste daily, most of which end up in landfills and in waterways, exacerbating health and environmental hazards.

Tackling this plastics situation is an urgent priority which requires multi sector collaboration. Nestle is committed to working together with governments, NGOs and the other private sector and industry stakeholders to develop a circular plastic economy, where plastic is collected, recycled and reused efficiently. The company is a founding member of the Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) whose mission is to build a self-sustaining recycling economy around post consumer packaging waste in other to stimulate employment, wealth creation and innovation.

L-R: Kemisola Ajasa, Regional Regulatory & Scientific Affairs, Nestlé Nigeria; Rabie Issa, Business Executive Officer, Nestlé Waters Nigeria; Mauricio Alarcón, MD/CEO, Nestlé Nigeria; Olawale Adebiyi MD Wecyclers, Bolanle Olowu, Head Business Development, Wecyclers; Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs Manager, Nestlé Nigeria.

In addition to this, Nestle has today, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Wecyclers, a social enterprise that helps households in low income communities capture value from their waste, to accelerate the process of recovering and recycling post-consumption plastic packaging waste in Lagos State. The agreement enables Wecyclers to extend plastics waste recovery systems to more communities through the establishment of collection points across 5 more communities. The project will also help to create 40 direct jobs for collection point operators and sorters, and empower an additional 15,000 Wecycler subscribers.

Signing of the MOU between Nestlé Nigeria and Wecyclers on Friday, 20th September 2019 at the Nestlé HO, Lagos State.

Speaking at the signing, Mr. Mauricio Alarcon, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nestle Nigeria said, “one of our ambitions at Nestle is to strive for zero environmental impact in our operations as we strive towards a waste free future. A key part of achieving this goal is to make 100% of our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025. Another important element is our vision that none of our product packaging, including plastics, should end up in landfills or as litter in our environment, in our seas, oceans and waterways. Tackling plastic pollution is an urgent priority which requires multisector collaboration, so this MoU with Wecyclers is another step towards achieving our shared objectives of a waste-free future and building thriving communities.”

“In with the belief that producers and consumers need to change behavior and habits to manage the menace, we are taking actions with other industry members or FBRA and are also engaging our people, our consumers and business partners to play their part in tackling the plastics problem. At Nestle, we are passionate about protecting the environment where we work and take action to protect and improve it.”

Tackling plastics pollution

Mr. Olawale Adebiyi, CEO of Wecyclers said “this partnership is an avenue to extend the plastics collection and recycling process by setting up more collection sites across Lagos. We are indeed pleased to partner with Nestle to achieve our objectives of helping to create a plastics recycling ecosystem in Nigeria. We are also happy that in addition to tackling the plastics menace, the project will also help to create 40 direct jobs for collection point operators and sorters , while empowering an additional 15,000 Wecyclers subscribers.”

Centre: Olawale Adebiyi MD Wecyclers

The recycling exchange programme since it’s inception in 2018, has diverted over 400 tonnes of plastics from the landfills into productive reuse. Wecyclers will handle the construction and deployment of each recycling kiosk, with coverage areas including Ajah, Ikeja, Mushin, Lagos Island and Magodo.

Energy ConservationEnvironmental News

Why A Retreat To Nature Can Be So Therapeutic

Psychotherapist and philosopher Erich Fromm (1900-1980) called the longing for nature biophilia. This is people’s love for nature, for the living. The term comes from the Greek and literally means “love of life or living systems.”

After Fromm’s death, the evolutionary biologist and professor at Harvard University, Edward O. Wilson, adopted this term and introduced the “biophilia hypothesis.” Wilson spoke about the “human urge to affiliate with other forms of life,” in other words, about our connection with nature. It is a connection that has evolved over millions of years. Human beings come from nature. We evolved and interacted with nature. We should therefore be considered a part of nature, just like all other life forms. The same life force in us is also in animals and plants. We are a part of the “web of life,” as Wilson expressed it.

The biophilia effect stands for wilderness and the conception of nature, for natural beauty and aesthetics, and for breaking free and healing.

The lessons of wilderness

Scientists call what goes on in humans when they’re in the wilderness an immediate conscious experience (ICE). The main focus here is on the psychological aspects of the experience of nature and wilderness. It’s about what individuals experience personally when they come into contact with nature, about what’s going on inside, what states of consciousness they are experiencing, what new ways of thinking and seeing they develop, how they find new solutions to problems or learn to deal with physical or psychological stresses. Whatever happens in the consciousness when a human being is immersed in the wilderness, environmental psychologists call it an immediate conscious experience in nature.

On top of perceiving the physical reality of our environment with our five senses, we humans also tend to derive additional meaning from the impressions we see, hear, smell and feel. This is true for our social environment as well, which we analyze, trying to make sense of everything that goes on around us. In general, the human species is the only one on this planet that searches for so much sense and meaning in life — and in nature. We can interpret nature and find metaphors and symbols that “tell” us something. It’s a very individual process. Depending on our background or our current state of mind, reading nature can differ completely from person to person and moment to moment.

A seedling can, for example, symbolize our own desire for children, a growing business idea, or a new life plan. A mighty tree standing in a wild place, defying wind and weather, can trigger associations with steadfastness. I recently saw a perennial growing out of a sidewalk grate. It took root in a small handful of soil that had collected there, and it was in full bloom. I suddenly thought how it’s possible to make so much from so little, when there is a will. This association came to mind while I was looking at the determined perennial.

Or think of a sprouting willow tree after a clear-cutting. The tree defies its destiny, revitalizes itself even after a radical interference in life, and attempts a new beginning. It grows above and beyond the harm done. Those who are in a similar situation, wanting to leave old wounds behind and to feel revitalized, might find solidarity with this unfaltering willow and feel inspired to find new energy. The willow may be whispering, “You’re not alone. I made it. You can rise again, too.” The symbolism of a damaged, downright mutilated tree that defies its destiny and maintains its will to live is intense. It may also be relevant in cases of physical trauma — for example, if a person has to cope with a physical impairment or negative physical changes and wants to say yes to life, just as the mutilated willow does.

The value of retreating into nature

Nature offers us impressions that we can see and interpret as symbols and, at the same time, it offers us a place of retreat, where self-reflection is accessible. It thus supplies us with the material and, at the same time, the space to reflect on it. The value of the wilderness experience lies in the “being away;” that is, being elsewhere. When we get out of the usual everyday experiences and find ourselves in a completely unfamiliar, inspiring environment, we gain a little distance from our problems.

Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, environmental psychology professors at the University of Michigan, identified “being away” as one of the most important mechanisms through which our nature experience affects our psyche and gives our soul space. These conclusions came from their numerous studies with test subjects who found a retreat in nature and then reported on what the wilderness did for them. “Being away” also means having a time-out from society, escaping human civilization for a while, alone or in selected company. It represents being away from consumerism, away from the digital world, away from the expectations of others, away from the performance pressure and the corset into which modern life often squeezes us. It signifies being far away from a world in which we must constantly fit a certain image and in which we are force-fed what it means to be a “good” person, a “well-adapted” person, a “hardworking” person, or a “productive” person.

“Being away” means we are in an environment where we can be as we are. Plants, animals, mountains, rivers, the sea — they are not interested in our productivity and performance, our appearance, our paycheck, or our mental state. We can be among them and participate in the network of life, even if we are momentarily weak, lost, or bubbling over with ideas and hyperactivity. Nature does not send us utility bills. The river in the mountains does not charge us for the clear, clean water we get from it when we wander along its banks or camp there. Nature does not criticize us. “Being away” means freedom from being evaluated or judged, and escaping from pressure to fulfill someone else’s expectations of us.

“Being away” is the ideal way to experience the therapeutic biophilia effect of nature.

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The Reality Of Carbon Footprint

If you really want to reduce your carbon footprint, have fewer kids and ditch your car…!

Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community.

The most common way to reduce the carbon footprint of humans is to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse. In manufacturing this can be done by recycling the packing materials, by selling the obsolete inventory of one industry to the industry who is looking to buy unused items at lesser price to become competitive. Nothing should be disposed off into the soil, all the ferrous materials which are prone to degrade or oxidize with time should be sold as early as possible at reduced price.

This can also be done by using reusable items such as thermoses for daily coffee or plastic containers for water and other cold beverages rather than disposable ones. If that option isn’t available, it is best to properly recycle the disposable items after use. When one household recycles at least half of their household waste, they can save 1.2 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Another easy option is to drive less. By walking or biking to the destination rather than driving, not only is a person going to save money on gas, but they will be burning less fuel and releasing fewer emissions into the atmosphere. However, if walking is not an option, one can look into carpooling or mass transportation options in their area.

Choice of diet is a major influence on a person’s carbon footprint. Animal sources of protein (especially red meat), rice (typically produced in high methane-emitting paddies), foods transported long distance and/or via fuel-inefficient transport (e.g., highly perishable produce flown long distance) and heavily processed and packaged foods are among the major contributors to a high carbon diet.

Finally, throwing food out not only adds its associated carbon emissions to a person or household’s footprint, it adds the emissions of transporting the wasted food to the garbage dump and the emissions of food decomposition, mostly in the form of the highly potent greenhouse gas, methane.

The carbon handprint movement emphasizes individual forms of carbon offsetting, like using more public transportation or planting trees in deforested regions, to reduce one’s carbon footprint and increase their “handprint.”

Furthermore, the carbon footprint in the food industry can be reduced by optimizing the supply chain. A life cycle or supply chain carbon footprint study can provide useful data which will help the business to identify critical areas for improvement and provides a focus. Such studies also demonstrate a company’s commitment to reducing carbon footprint now ahead of other competitors as well as preparing companies for potential regulation. In addition to increased market advantage and differentiation eco-efficiency can also help to reduce costs where alternative energy systems are implemented.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash – Having fewer children, eh? In Africa? That’s a tough call.

The most significant way individuals could mitigate their own carbon footprint is to have fewer children, followed by living without a vehicle, forgoing air travel and adopting a plant-based diet.

Having one fewer pair of small human feet padding around your home can help the environment, at least those were the findings of a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Looking at 39 peer-reviewed articles and governmental reports, the researchers determined that the best way to reduce your personal carbon emissions was to have one fewer child.

In reality though, shrinking one’s carbon footprint is difficult, and conscious choices have to be made to do it.

Researchers are aware of this, advocating that textbooks shift away from advocating for the low-impact solutions, like plastic bag reduction, and put forth possible solutions that are more radical, or at the very least, will have a bigger impact.

“Though adolescents poised to establish lifelong patterns are an important target group for promoting high-impact actions, we find that ten high school science textbooks from Canada largely fail to mention [high-impact] actions (they account for 4 percent of their recommended actions), instead focusing on incremental changes with much smaller potential emissions reductions.”

Of course, high impact and low impact choices can vary depending on where a person lives, something else the study points out.

For instance, switching from a gasoline automobile to an electric car still emits the equivalent of 1.15 tonnes of CO2 a year, but this number can go up if the electricity used in your area doesn’t rely heavily on renewable sources of energy.

“We provide mean values for our recommended actions,” the researchers write, “but we do not suggest that these are firm figures universally representative of each action, but instead best estimates.”

Still, taking bigger swings to help the planet may have enough of a spillover effect to save it, the researchers believe. At least until we’ve all gone vegan and are walking everywhere.

Take an action today to help the environment.

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10 Ways To Make Your Community Healthier

The environment in your neighborhood and surrounding community has a huge impact on your health and lifespan. Where you live determines how safe your drinking water is, whether you have access to healthy food, how often you get outdoors to exercise and whether you breathe clean air.

In fact, an health statistics show that social factors, like your physical environment and quality of support services, account for over 50 percent of total deaths a year in Nigeria. That is, people living in dilapidated neighborhoods with fewer public services, safe spaces and supportive social networks are more likely to suffer poor health and premature death.

With poor health policies and corrupt public health officials perverting the course of quality living, there are plenty of smaller things you and your neighbors can start doing right now to help make your neighborhood healthier. Here are 10 ideas to help you and everyone around you live better and longer.

1. Grow healthy food

Photo by Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn on Unsplash

Garden-fresh fruits and vegetables grown naturally in your backyard with homemade compost and without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers are more nutritious than refrigerated produce shipped from long distances. Less reliance on transportation also means lower fossil-fuel use and fewer carbon emissions that cause health-harming climate change. Organize a healthy produce swap with neighbors who also have gardens or start a community garden. You can even use an empty lot.

If gardening isn’t popular or doable in your neighborhood, start a centrally located farmer’s market or buy a bulk membership in a CSA (community-supported agriculture) to get farm-fresh seasonal produce for you and your neighbors. Also ask local grocery stores, restaurants and schools to offer more healthy food and drink options.

2. Make your community more walkable and bikeable.

Each hour you spend in a car per day corresponds with a 6 percent increase in your odds of becoming obese. Obesity is linked to many chronic and deadly diseases. Too many vehicles on the road also leads to stressful traffic congestion, unhealthy greenhouse-gas emissions and accidents that injure and kill people and animals.

To make your community healthier and safer, advocate to make it more walkable and bikeable. Work with local officials to create pedestrian and bike zones. Ask for bike racks around town. Set up a “walking bus” where parents take turns escorting kids to and from school. Lobby for speed bumps, elevated crosswalks, lower speed limits and other traffic-calming designs to slow down drivers. Even small decreases save lives, as evidenced by a 2011 study from AAA which found you’re nearly 70 percent more likely to be killed if you’re struck by a car going 30 mph than by one going 25 mph. If you can’t walk or bike, consider carpooling.

3. Shop local

Photo by Jordan Christian on Unsplash

Buying from businesses in your community doesn’t just help them thrive, it also helps you and your neighbors in a number of health-promoting ways. For one thing, if stores are nearby you can walk or bike there, improving your physical fitness and reducing car use (see the previous tip). When shops are close and goods aren’t shipped from far away you minimize traffic jams, energy consumption, carbon emissions and habitat loss from sprawl. In addition, supporting community merchants strengthens the local economy, which in turn improves the health of your neighborhood and saves lives. Lower income and economic insecurity is widely linked to poorer health and lower mental well-being.

4. Reduce neighborhood waste

Litter isn’t just unsightly, it’s also dangerous for kids, wildlife and everybody else in your neighborhood. Improperly discarded cigarette butts, old tires, junk food wrappers, plastic soda rings, beer cans, chemicals and other trash can hurt or kill animals, start fires, promote harmful bacteria and clog stormwater drains (which causes flooding and contaminates groundwater).

Pick up trash when you see it or organize regular neighborhood cleanups. Start a compost pile in your yard instead of dumping food scraps and yard waste in the garbage, or set up a community compost center. Composting not only transforms waste into healthy nutrient-rich soil for your yard and garden, but it also cuts greenhouse gas emissions from the breakdown of organic matter in landfills and from fuel used to transport waste.

5. Plant trees

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

Besides absorbing air pollutants and carbon dioxide, protecting against climate change and providing oxygen, trees add to the health of humans, wildlife and neighborhoods in many additional ways. Plant trees in your yard (preferably native varieties adapted to soil and climate conditions) and encourage your neighbors to do the same. Consider organizing a community tree-planting project. Many cities and tree organizations like National Wildlife Federation’s Trees for Life program give away free seedlings to groups.

6. Encourage development of parks and outdoor spaces

Nature, trees and undeveloped fields and forests are good for your body and mind, according to several studies. It’s not just that they encourage you to get outside and move. Being in nature also cuts blood pressure, lowers the body-damaging impact of stress and promotes psychological well-being. Hospital patients who have a view of trees even tolerate pain better and go home faster.

Team up with community leaders to preserve green spaces, create parks, develop biking and walking paths, and establish more outdoor recreational areas. If you live in an urban neighborhood without many green spots encourage nearby schools, churches and community centers to open their playgrounds and other recreational spaces to local residents when not in use. Ask about indoor gyms, play areas, pools and even hallways for community use in bad weather.

7. Green the tiny spaces too

We all know those spots that could become real community assets with a little TLC. Maybe there’s an eyesore vacant lot that might be transformed into a public meditation garden or sitting park. Or how about that little strip of land between the sidewalk and curb that you and your neighbors could convert into a rain garden to absorb storm-water runoff and filter out chemicals, pesticides and other pollutants? Create a bigger rain garden in your yard to soak up rainwater from your downspouts, and urge your neighbors to follow suit.

8. Volunteer in your community

Join a group that’s working to make your community healthier — whether that’s providing nutritious meals to older neighbors, fighting poverty or improving the environment in your area. Other ways to get involved include attending municipal meetings, writing letters to community leaders, getting appointed or elected to a town board such as the planning commission, and even running for city council or other local office. Not only will you be directly involved in decision-making about your community’s growth, open spaces, parks and other services that affect health, but studies show that volunteering also boosts your own physical and mental health. All the more reason to encourage your neighbors to get involved too.

9. Clean up your energy use

Installing solar panels on your home allows you to generate electricity without producing harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Too expensive? Do a bulk purchase with your neighbors and receive a discount. Solar co-ops like DC Sun allow communities to collectively green their energy use. If wind energy is more appealing, consider installing a small wind turbine on your property. Even better, organize your neighbors to create a community-owned wind farm.

10. Be neighborly

Research shows that connecting with people around you makes you healthier and boosts your lifespan. Specifically, studies show that having a strong social network helps cut stress levels that can harm your immune system, coronary arteries and gut function, plus it elevates stress-busting hormones.

Introduce yourself to neighbors and stay in regular touch. Create a welcoming front porch and reach out to passersby. Or put an outdoor lounging space in your front yard instead of the back yard to improve your approachability. Organize a neighborhood party. Keep your community even healthier by creating a neighborhood “care watch” committee that provides local residents in need with home-delivered meals, rides to the doctor and help with everyday tasks.

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THE INDIVIDUAL’S GUIDE TO ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

While the society waits for better government policies geared towards environmental sustainability, the individual can take baby steps that can amount to long strides over time if done with consistency. To some extent, the society is a reflection of the individuals in it. This implies that people with healthy living habits makes for a better society.

Below are some simple things you can do to care of your immediate environment.

Save Electricity

Turn your lights off! This one seems like a no-brainer but people often forget to switch off the light when they walk out of a room. Turn off lights when you aren’t using them and you will help save the environment and save on your electricity bill. Try to have an hour every day where you don’t use lights. Use energy-efficient light bulbs instead of regular bulbs. They last longer and in turn saves you a bit of money. Be sure to turn off lights, the TV, and other appliances when you are not using them. Lower your air conditioning when it is not necessary.

40% of electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off! So unplug that phone charger, better still the extension cord.

Don’t Drive If You Don’t Have To

Can you ride a bike to work, walk or take a taxi? If there is a way to reduce your car use, try to do it every day. The first two makes you healthier, and if you take the taxi, you can read or check your emails and/or newspaper while you commute.

Compost

It is safe to assume that everyone has a garbage can. You can have a second bin for your trash as well: compost. Gardeners love compost, since it creates a rich, natural soil to grow flowers and vegetables in. It also saves dumps from dealing with extra garbage. If something can decompose, try composting it!

Don’t Forget To Reuse And Re-purpose

Simple efforts like reusing plastic bags or re-purposing an old shoe-box can save tons of waste from the dump. Plus, re-purposing items around the house is a great way to nurture your own creativity. How many ways can you reuse an old milk tin…?

BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag)

It is very common to see plastic bags in surplus quantities in our homes. It is also common to see them littered all around us in the most uncomfortable ways. Yet, every time we go to the market or shops, we leave lots at home only to bring more back with us. If a million Nigerians can go to the market with a plastic bag from their homes every week, that means there will be, at the very least, one million less bags produced. This will help protect our environment and conserve resources.

Reduce

The truth is that we create LOTS of trash. Just think about how much stuff you bring home from the market or stores that ends up in the trash can, and I’m not even talking about the food itself, just the packaging. Consider how you can reduce the amount of garbage you create on your own.

Plant Trees And Native Plants

Have you planted a tree before?

Green living areas in our cities and suburbs are vital. Industrialization and suburban sprawl have taken away the trees – our main source of unadulterated oxygen. They’re also beautiful, and they do their part to keep our environment clean.

By planting a tree today, you can make green space and unadulterated oxygen a reality for the next generation. The same goes for landscaping with native plants. Not only are they low maintenance, they conserve water, reduce carbon pollution, and support the health of local wildlife. If you don’t have your own lawn you can spread the word and tell a friend.

Fall In Love With Mother Nature

“There is mounting research that supports the idea that children [and adults] who spend regular time playing and learning in the natural world are happier, healthier, smarter, more creative and better problem solvers,” shares Janice Swaisgood, Children & Nature Network’s National Coordinator of Nature Clubs for Families.

Essentially if we want to be inspired to protect our natural resources, we must fall in love with nature. Go out, swim in a lake, and walk or play on the beach. Put down your phone and go outside to see what kind of birds and butterflies are fluttering about your yard. When you find a bird nest and observe (not interfere) with the hatching, growing, and finally flying away… you develop an intrinsic vested interest or ownership in the natural world.

 

So there you have it folks! Start changing the world with what is right in front of you. The power to make the world a better place is in our hands, not the hands of politicians nor anyone else. We have a duty to care for the planet and it is our daily decisions to make a difference that can change everything. Regardless of whether global warming exists or not, we’re still responsible to be good stewards of nature.

Imagine what might happen if everyone decided to get serious about this one.