Tips to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar

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Raise your hands: Do you love coffee? A whole lot of people do. They either drink it first thing when they wake up to get their day going, or they sip cups of joe throughout the day (maybe because they like it, maybe because they need a little energy boost). But to all the naysayers who say coffee isn’t good for you, tell them that research shows otherwise. In fact, coffee may benefit the liver and gall bladder, and it is full of antioxidants.

But what can make coffee unhealthy are the sugary additives that many of us also favor. Sugar can add calories and lead to a host of health conditions such as diabetes and liver disease. If you find plain coffee boring, then perhaps you might want to consider some flavor additions that aren’t sugar focused. What are those? This graphic offers some ideas to start to sip with your coffee.

 

8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar
“8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Tastier Without Sugar” on Health Perch

Environmental Cost of Paper in the Workplace

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A lot has been written about the greening of workplaces, but the unfortunate fact remains that many companies continue to be huge contributors to environmental destruction, pollution, and climate change. Many of those contributions are in the form of discarded paper. Say you decide to print something out at work. What’s the cost to your office? You might think that that single printing choice—that single piece of paper—doesn’t actually make that big of an impact on your bottom line, but you’d be wrong.

In fact, for every $1 million in revenue that a company generates, they also generate about 8 metric tons of waste, and out of that, 40 percent is just paper waste.  And if your average employee is anything like the average employee at every company, they’re probably using about 10,000 pieces of paper. Wow, is all we can say.

But here’s the thing: Recycled paper is pretty easy to come by. And by using recycled paper, you’re helping to reduce the deforestation of the planet and the increasing amount of waste in our landfills.

So how can you max out recycling of paper? This graphic explains it.

 

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Recycled papers

Waste Management at Army Installations

Waste management at army installations demands an integrated framework based on the conventional waste management hierarchy of 4Rs – reduction, reuse, recycling and recovery (of energy). Waste reduction (or waste minimization) is the top-most solution to reduce waste generation at army bases which demands close cooperation among different departments, including procurement, technical services, housing, food service, personnel. Reducing office paper waste by implementing a policy to duplex all draft reports.

Army installations are unique due to more than one factor including strict discipline, high degree of motivation, good financial resources and skilled personnel. Usually army installations are one of the largest employers in and around the region where they are based and have a very good influence of the surrounding community, which is bound to have a positive impact on overall waste management strategies in the concerned region.

Waste disposal methods for army based is dependent on size of the population, location, local regulations, budgetary constraints and many other factors. It is imperative on base commanders to evaluate all possible options and develop a cost-effective and efficient waste management plan.

The key factors in the success of waste management plan in army bases are development of new technologies/practices, infrastructure building, participation of all departments, basic environmental education for personnel and development of a quality recycling program.

Due to large fraction of recyclables in the waste stream, recycling is an attractive proposition for the armed forces. However, environmental awareness, waste collection infrastructure, and modern equipment are essential for the success of any waste management strategy.

Food waste and yard waste (or green waste) can be subjected to anaerobic digestion or composting to increase landfill diversion rates and obtain energy-rich biogas (for cooking/heating) and nutrient-rich fertilizer (for landscaping and indoor gardening). For deployed forces, small-scale waste-to-energy systems, based on thermal technologies, can be an effective solution for disposal of combustible wastes, and for harnessing energy potential of wastes.

Landfill diversion is achieved when the waste is either not generated in the first place, or when the potential waste is recycled or re-used. As a result, the material never actually becomes a waste. Separation is a critical part of waste diversion. Separation is probably most efficiently conducted at the point of generation. However, post collection separation is also feasible.

Conclusion

With increasing militarization, more wars and frequent armed conflicts, protection of the environment has assumed greater significance for military in armed conflicts as well as peacetime operations. Sustainable management of trash is a good opportunity for armed forces to promote environmental stewardship, foster sustainable development and generate goodwill among the local population and beyond.

Turning Household Waste into Clean Fuel

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As more and more governments and businesses are racing to find efficient and reliable solutions for providing energy, the one option that is both widely achievable on a house-by-house basis, as well as tackling two major environmental issues is turning household waste into fuel.

We know there are already many organisations that are doing this on a large scale, collecting household waste from large areas and turning it into energy in Waste to Energy plants. However, arguably a better way to benefit from this is to produce energy on a household basis. In this article we explore some of the reasons why this is a good idea and how we can practically turn our own waste at home into energy.

Reduce Waste Transportation & Limit Landfill Use

Let’s take for example the UK, where they throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink waste as a population every year. Every bit of this waste is collected by local council services and transported some distance, eventually disposed of at landfill sites across the country.

The impact on the environment is twofold in this case. Firstly, the heavy duty vehicles required to collect the household waste are less than environmentally friendly. On the surface this may seem like a minor point, however when you consider how heavy these vehicles are, how slowly they move and how long they spend idling, they contribute a large amount to traffic pollution.

In fact, recent figures show that the average efficiency of these vehicles is around 4.4 mpg. Transportation of waste obviously remains an issue even where commercial Waste to Energy plants are concerned, but can be remedied by turning waste to fuel at home.

The second and arguably more obvious impact of the traditional waste disposal process is that it requires a vast amount of land. Quite simply, by using home waste to generate energy we are able to limit the amount of rubbish currently going to landfill sites.

Anaerobic Digestion

Up until now it has been technically difficult to create usable gas from household waste such as food leftovers. However, recent developments have made it easier than ever to produce energy from these wasted items. This has been made possible by a start-up that has created a user-friendly unit that can be used to collect left over food waste and turn it into biogas using the anaerobic digestion process. This biogas can then be used directly in the connected house for cooking, heating and even lighting.

For those with the ambition and technical experience, it is possible to produce biofuels and build your own biogas generator at home. Practically this is much easier in a tropical climate where the environment makes perfect conditions for the production of biogas from a wide variety of organic wastes. However, with the right equipment and insulation it is possible to do this in other climates.

Car Fuel from Household Waste

We are going to see a continuing rise in fuel prices across the globe. This fact is seeing a trend for eco car manufacturers to develop alternatives for traditional fuels, ranging from solar power through to electric. One alternative is fuelling your car on used vegetable oil. Practically, most diesel cars can be run off used vegetable oil with some minor alterations. This can be done by a specialist, but equally can be also achieved at home by those mechanically-inclined with specialist kits.

Arguably this may not be the most environmentally friendly option for fuelling cars as burning the oil for energy is comparable to diesel in terms of emissions. However, vegetable oil based fuels are carbon neutral due to absorbed carbon during the plants growing process. Also, when we consider the global issues with waste management, running our cars on vegetable oil is a smart solution.

Using household waste may not be as negative for the environment as media often paints it out to be. By limiting landfill and the harmful emissions generated during the waste disposal process we are able to create environmental benefits. We have also explored some of the practical ways you can use home waste to generate fuel for use in your home and for your car.

Preparing Your Garden Beds for Spring

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Do you want to get the most out of your garden beds this approaching spring? You can if you know the secret to effective gardening! What can that be? A good groundwork in making your soil right for planting! So, how do you go about getting your garden soil right for the year’s first crops? Following is a spring to do list that will enlighten you on the right way of going about your task.

Garden beds can be of three types

  • Garden beds that are to be freshly developed
  • Beds that have seen the growth of crops earlier but are now empty
  • Beds which have perennials, shrubs or bulbs growing on them

 The procedure to be adopted for each of them is detailed below:

Developing Fresh Garden Beds

The first task will be to ensure that there are no utility or irrigation lines running through your property from your local government cell. Outline the shape of your garden bed before the onset of spring. Do it with the help of a garden hose, changing its position till you get it right. Next, get down to destroying any vegetation if it exists by using a saw or pruners.

Begin your task in the fall period

  • Cover the soil and vegetation with a good many layers of newspapers with regular ink print
  • Lay a 3 inch compost material on it
  • Vegetation is killed due to the sunlight blockage
  • Nicely developed compost layer is good for the soil

Next step is to start turning the bed over with your spade and shovel. Ensure that you are working on soil that is moist but not wet. This alone will enable you to get the most out of your working. Double digging the soil to a depth of about 18 inches will go a long way in preparing your garden soil in an optimum fashion. Weed seeds that were earlier not visible will be highlighted. In order to prevent them from germinating, you need to use synthetic merchandise to kill it.

Alternatively, you can spread organic mulch of bark or pine needles thickly over your proposed garden bed. However, weed and feed merchandise will necessitate you to use pot grown plants for installing in your garden bed.

When you are through with your planting, spreading compost layer on your soil-top is necessary. This will prevent the growth of weeds; retain the soil moisture besides giving a neat appearance to your garden bed.

Preparing Existing Beds with No Vegetation

Here, you will be replanting into a garden bed that has no vegetation in it. You can therefore, skip the first step of layering the bed with newspapers for destroying the existing vegetation. However, you need to keep enriching your soil by adding organic matter at regular intervals. You turn the moist soil and then add a layer of compost into it. Double digging along with inclusion of organic matter is highly recommended. Additionally, mulch can be used to cover your soil-top to prevent weed growth and make it richer.

Good groundwork is essential in making your soil right for planting

Preparing Existing Beds with Vegetation

The third kind is garden beds which have some sort of vegetation in it. You have to be extra careful while turning in the compost on these areas. The roots of existing plants should not be harmed in any way. The compost mixture can be put in small amounts around the prevailing plants and can be spread on the soil-top. Ensure that it does not touch the plant stems. Areas which are left open for planting annuals can be enriched by incorporating compost before planting.

How to Evaluate Soil’s Moisture Content

  • Pick a lump and crush it. If water is squeezed out then it is wet.
  • If it can’t be crushed into a ball then it is too dry.
  • If it shapes up into a ball and falls apart on tapping then it is said to be perfect.

Dry soil will prevent work to be done while wet soil will lead to clumping. Moist soil ensures optimum soil structure and air porosity.

How to Determine Soil Structure

  • Sandy Soil: Doesn’t retain water
  • Clay Soil: Too hard to be broken down
  • Healthy Soil: Crumbly and friable

Clay and sandy soil can be tackled by incorporating lots of enriched organic matter or compost into it. Microbial activity will be enhanced and earthworms who are supposed to be besties of gardeners will start flourishing.

Follow the above spring to do list and you will be on your way to getting an excellent garden bed prepared for your spring planting.

Our Digital Carbon Footprint: A Cause for Concern

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The number of Internet users reaches record highs every year, but did you know that for every tweet, comment, email and google search, a small amount of CO2 is emitted? This is our digital carbon footprint. For one person, the numbers aren’t too impressive, but when you factor in every person on planet earth who’s using the internet, those small numbers suddenly look ginormous, and worrying.

What is Digital Carbon Footprint?

When you think of the destructive causes that contribute to the breakdown of the ozone layer, sitting behind a desk on your computer or flicking through your phone probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. However, thanks to the colossal number of data centres that are now needed to feed planet earth’s internet obsession, the online world is now beginning to damage the real world.

Here are some internet and social media stats per second and the resulting CO2 emitted.

Google Searches

In the modern world, Google is our gateway to any answer we’re looking for. As a result, there are over 60,000 searches made on Google every second. Combine that with the fact that the average search produces around 0.2g of CO2 and the quantity of emissions is quite remarkable.

Sending Emails

According to ‘internet live stats’, there are more than 2.5 million emails sent every second with a “everyday” email emitting 4g of CO2. That is quite astonishing. Especially when they also say that around 67% off all emails are spam. Anti-virus specialists, McAfee, say that this number is even higher, reporting that a remarkable 78% of all incoming emails are spam and that approximately 62 trillion spam messages are sent every year.

Facebook

Facebook’s growth is the perfect example of how things have escalated over the last 10 years or so when it comes to internet usage. According to their sustainability report, in 2004 one million people were using Facebook, fast forward to 2016 and you need to replace the word million with billion and then some.

Facebook say that their annual per-user carbon emissions is 299g of CO2, which is less than making 1 latte or boiling 1 pot of tea. This is quite an achievement, but when there are so many people using the site, it still adds up to a lot of emissions.

Twitter

Raffi Krikorian, a developer at Twitter once stated that each tweet consumes around 90 joules, equalling 0.02g of CO2 emissions. Hardly anything right? Correct, however there are approximately 8,000 tweets written and published every single second.

YouTube

An article in the Guardian revealed that 1g of CO2 was emitted for every 10 minutes of YouTube watched or 0.0017g per second. That’s right, so the next time you’re up late at night watching funny cat videos, remember that those adorable, cute and cuddly fur balls mean you are contributing to the breakdown of the ozone layer.

Google’s Strive For Carbon Neutrality

10 years ago, Google vowed to be carbon neutral by 2017, a goal which they’ve met. In 2016 Google’s gross greenhouse gas emissions were 2.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), but thanks to $2.5 billion of investment into solar and wind projects, carbon offset programs and renewable energy, their net operational carbon emissions are now zero.

This infographic will provide more information about our digital carbon footprint:


Consumption and Resulting Carbon Footprint of the Internet by Credit Angel.

Abattoir Waste Disposal via Anaerobic Digestion

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Abattoir waste disposal is a major environmental challenge in all parts of the world. The chemical properties of abattoir wastes are similar to that of municipal sewage, however the former is highly concentrated wastewater with 45% soluble and 55% suspended organic composition. Blood has a very high COD of around 375,000 mg/L and is one of the major dissolved pollutants in abattoir wastewater.

In developing countries, there is no organized strategy for disposal of solid as well as liquid wastes generated in abattoirs. The solid abattoir waste is collected and dumped in landfills or open areas while the liquid waste is sent to municipal sewerage system or water bodies, thus endangering public health as well as terrestrial and aquatic life.

Wastewater from abattoirs is notorious for causing sharp increase in the BOD, COD, total solids, pH, temperature and turbidity, and may even cause deoxygenation of water bodies.

Anaerobic Digestion of Abattoir Wastes

Anaerobic digestion is one of the best options for abattoir waste management which leads to production of high calorific value biogas, reduction in GHGs emissions and effective pollution control in abattoirs. Anaerobic digestion can achieve a high degree of COD and BOD removal from abattoir effluent at a significantly lower cost than comparable aerobic systems.

Abattoir waste disposal is a major environmental challenge in developing countries of Asia and Africa

The biogas potential of slaughterhouse waste is higher than other organic wastes such as animal manure, and is in the range of 120-160 m3 biogas per ton of wastes. However the carbon-nitrogen ratio of abattoir waste is quite low (4:1) which demands its co-digestion with high C:N substrates like animal manure, food waste, crop residues, poultry litter etc.

Abattoir effluent has high COD, high BOD, and high moisture content which make it well-suited for biogas production. Abattoir wastewater also contains high concentrations of suspended organic solids including pieces of fat, grease, hair, feathers, manure, grit, and undigested feed which will contribute the slowly biodegradable of organic matter. Amongst anaerobic treatment processes, the up-flow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) process is widely used for anaerobic digestion of abattoir wastes.

Abattoir waste is a protein-rich substrate and may result in sulfide formation during anaerobic degradation. The increased concentration of sulfides in the digester can lead to higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in the biogas which may inhibit methanogens. In addition to sulfides, ammonia is also formed during the anaerobic digestion process which may increase the pH in the digester (>8.0) which can be growth limiting for some VFA-consuming methanogens.

Ways to Tackle Water Scarcity

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How many people do you think are affected by lack of water? Unfortunately, it’s probably more than you realize. In fact, about 500 million people on the planet live someplace where the water they depend on for daily life is consumed at about twice the rate that they get it back via rain.

And it’s not just the lack of replenishment that’s affecting people. The quality of water is also something of grave concern to hundreds of millions of people, especially in developing countries.

Take this number: Over 800,000 people die, each and every year, from diarrhea that they contracted after drinking water that was unsanitary. Of all the children under age 5 who die each year, one out of four of them die because of an illness that they contracted due that was in water. And water costs lives, and it also costs people billions of dollars—in access, in lost business, in lost food.

Scientists forecast that the problem is only going to get worse, too. More and more people aren’t going to be able to access the water they need for daily work and daily living needs, and more and more people are going to suffer from economic impact due to that lack of water, especially vulnerable groups like refugees. What do you need to know about this important issue? This infographic explains it.

 

Please include attribution to www.waterlogic.com/en-us/ with this graphic.

How People All Over The World Are Resolving to Reduce Water Scarcity

Environmental Impacts of MSW Incineration

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Incineration-based processes for municipal solid waste (MSW) treatment are a subject of intense environmental debate around the world. In the absence of effective controls, harmful pollutants from MSW incineration plants may be emitted into the air, land and water which may be detrimental to public health and the environment. Thus, it is essential to have strict controls to prevent negative impacts of waste-to-energy plants, especially incineration.

What is MSW Incineration?

Incineration is the controlled combustion of waste with the recovery of heat to produce steam that in turn produces power through steam turbines and any other CHP system. Incineration is the predominant technology for MSW-to-energy plants, which involves burning the trash at high temperatures. Similarly to how some facilities use coal or natural gas as fuel sources, power plants can also burn MSW as fuel to heat water, which creates steam, turns a turbine and produces electricity.

A modern air pollution control system is essential for all MSW incineration facilities.

The most common type of incineration plant is called a mass-burn facility and the most common incineration technology is moving grate system. These units burn the trash in one large chamber. The facility might sort the MSW before sending it to the combustion chamber to remove non-combustible materials and recyclables. Mass-burn systems use excess air to facilitate mixing, and ensure air gets to all the waste. Many of these units also burn the fuel on a sloped, moving grate to mix the waste even further. These steps are vital because solid waste is inconsistent, and its content varies.

Environmental Issues

The incineration process produces two types of ash. Bottom ash comes from the furnace and is mixed with slag, while fly ash comes from the stack and contains components that are more hazardous. In municipal waste incinerators, bottom ash is approximately 10% by volume and approximately 20 to 35% by weight of the solid waste input. Fly ash quantities are much lower, generally only a few percent of input.

Emissions from incinerators can include heavy metals, dioxins and furans, which may be present in the waste gases, water or ash. Plastic and metals are the major source of the calorific value of the waste. The combustion of plastics, like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) gives rise to these highly toxic pollutants.

Toxics are created at various stages of such thermal technologies, and not only at the end of the stack. These can be created during the process, in the stack pipes, as residues in ash, scrubber water and filters, and in fact even in air plumes which leave the stack. There are no safe ways of avoiding their production or destroying them, and at best they can be trapped at extreme cost in sophisticated filters or in the ash. The ultimate release is unavoidable, and if trapped in ash or filters, these become hazardous wastes themselves.

The pollutants which are created, even if trapped, reside in filters and ash, which need special landfills for disposal. In case of energy recovery, it requires heat exchangers which operate at temperatures which maximize dioxin production. If the gases are quenched, it goes against energy recovery.

Such projects disperse incinerator ash throughout the environment which may enter our food chain and cause havoc with human health as well as other ecosystems. These facts make it essential for every incineration-based waste-to-energy plant to have a modern air pollution control system which may trap all harmful pollutants from going into the atmosphere, which may help in public acceptability of waste-to-energy plants.

For more information, please email Salman Zafar on salman@cleantechloops.com or salman@ecomena.org

10 Tips for Indoor Gardening

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Indoor gardening can sound like an intimidating prospect, as plants are supposed to be outdoors—aren’t they? Certain plants, however, can survive and thrive in an indoor environment. Here are 10 tips for keeping your indoor garden happy and healthy:

Location, Location, Location

Some plants require more light than others. One of the most important factors for keeping plants happy is making sure they’re getting as much, or as little, light as they want. Some plants may be happier being placed by windows, and some may want a little bit less light and will do better in a shadier area.

Mist to Avoid Drying Out

In artificially heated or air conditioned environments, some plants may dry out. Misting your plants is a good way to combat this, as it can help keep them from getting too dry. Some plants will do well when misted, and others will not, so be sure to look at the requirements for each specific plant.

But Don’t Over Water!

Over-watering is a cause of problems for many different plants, especially plants that are more accustomed to a dry environment (such as succulents). Plants should only be watered when the soil feels dry to the touch. Some plants, like succulents, only grow their roots when the soil is allowed to dry. In an indoor environment, overwatering can cause roots to rot as well as the potential for other problems.

Use Ice Cubes for Water

A good way to moderate the amount of water plants get, or to water them more slowly, is to place ice cubes in the pot with them. They will slowly melt, allowing the plants to be watered at a more steady rate that can help the water absorb into the soil more slowly.

Use Fertilizer

Using fertilizer can be a good way to assist your plants in getting the different nutrients they need, especially if they are in an indoor environment and may not be exposed to the same things as outdoor plants. Different plants have different needs, so it’s important to make sure you’re providing the right type and amount of fertilizer for each plant.

Not Enough Sunlight? Not a Problem!

Artificial lighting, often called grow lights when they’re used for plants, can be a good way of helping plants get the sunlight they need. Often, you can’t choose the direction of the windows in your home and there isn’t a lot you can do about it. In this case, using artificial light can help plants that need a lot of light if being near a window isn’t enough.

Choose Plants Wisely

Certain plants are easier to grow inside than others, and one of the most important steps in beginning an indoor garden is making sure you choose plants that are capable of being grown to their full potential inside. Many plants that require pollination from things like bees and butterflies (such as plants that grow fruit) are very difficult to grow inside due to the fact that they require pollination from an outside source.

Match Plants with their Environment

Different plants all have different native environments, and sometimes it can be hard to recreate these environments in your home. Plants that tend to like more moist environments will do better in your bathroom, as the air is much more likely to be as moist as they like it. Some plants prefer certain temperatures, and this should be taken into account as you’re choosing plants for your home. A plant will not do well if it’s much colder or hotter in your home than in the plant’s native environment.

Choose the Right Container

There might be a temptation to choose a container for your plant based only on how it looks with the rest of your interior decor. It’s important to consider not only the way the plant will look in your home, but also how the container will function within the life of the plant. For example, glass containers can look very pretty but they can hold onto more water than a desert plant would like, and this can cause problems for the plant in the future.

More Than Just Decor

Some plants can have functions other than being purely decorative. Certain flowers can add calming scents, herbs can be used in cooking, and some plants like aloe have a variety of functions other than being decorative.

Conclusion

Indoor gardening can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many ways to make indoor gardening easier, and using these tips can help bring your indoor garden to life and create a space that can be functional as well as beautiful.

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Salman Zafar