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deliberateLIFE engages today's globally-conscious citizen in building a better tomorrow. We believe choices matter – so we vet ideas, products and organizations to make it easier for today's busy professionals to live well and do good.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filtering by Category: Environment

Making Water Conservation the Norm

Annmarie Rodriguez

By Annmarie Rodriguez ||

According to the LA Times, California is drinking up its last year’s supply of water. In California, it’s easy to gaze out at the beautiful Pacific (assuming you’re near the coast) and feel as though our current state of drought is less than severe. Truth is: though the majority of our earth is composed of water, only about 1% of it is available for human use.

As a community, it’s important that we work together to change our mentality and habits towards how we use water.

The drought is not an issue that can be conquered by environmental enthusiasts alone. Practicing water conscious habits is a necessity for all of us. Water Conservation is an invaluable way in which we can advocate for the well-being of both ourselves and others, including those of future generations. Water preservation can seem daunting, an extra task on your ever-growing list of to-dos. However, if you put in a little time upfront (to assess and implement healthy change), conserving water can become a regular and easy part of your everyday life.

To help, Here are some tips of the trade:

water info graphic from watersense.jpg
  • Take Quick Showers: Have trouble keeping track of time? Make a shower playlist and challenge yourself to finish your shower within one song’s length of time.
  • Flush Less: If it’s yellow let it…well, you know how it goes.
  • Turn It Off: Make sure to turn the water off so the faucet’s not running while your brushing your teeth. Also, instead of thawing food items by running the faucet until the water's hot, throw your food in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Wash Efficiently: Only use the washing machine when it’s full. The fewer loads you run, the less water you use.
  • Fix Leaks: Make a habit of annual plumbing and irrigation system checks. Little leaks in the home can lead to gallons of daily water loss.
  • Invest in Less: In less water use, that is. Buying water-efficient products (shower heads, toilets and the like) can help you save both water and money. One way to determine if a product is water-efficient is by looking for a watersense label which indicates that the product has met U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) qualifications for "water efficiency and performance." 
  • Compost It: Add food waste to a compost pile instead of throwing it down the garbage disposal (which uses water). For more info on how to create a compost pile, click here.

It's easy to think that our water supply is plentiful. For a large number of us, each time we turn on the faucet, hop into the shower or press against the lever in our fridge with a glass, water comes flowing out. Though plentiful is far from the case,  there is something we can actively do to make a positive change. We can integrate water conscious habits into our day-to-day lives.

We hope that the above tips will help you as you deliberately choose to be part of the solution; save water and live well. 

[Graphic from the U.S. EPA]

6 Tips To Reduce Plastic Waste

Fay Johnson

Beach_1.jpg

Summer is often marked by the scents of sunscreen, warm earth, wildflowers, salty seaside air,... and plastic. Walk into any convenience store, drugstore, or coastal gas station and you will be greeted by stacks of freshly-minted water wings, flip flops, rows of overpriced bottled water, and beach toys. A garish panoply of neon colors and the acrid aroma of cheap wares.

As a community committed to building a better tomorrow, we should consider two things: why beaches exist and where those plastic conveniences end up. The answer is one and the same: the ocean. Of course, not everything that we pile into our large beach totes remains on the shore, but the increase in disposable plastic can harm us and our environment. In addition to the health concerns that arise for humans and wildlife from exposure to plastics, this waste is a financial burden for states and countries. [California, for instance, spends $52 million annually to clear trash away from its beaches alone.]

There are over 165 million tons of plastic in the world's oceans, with eight million pieces of plastic entering the ocean every day.  Seem abstract? Animals from at least 267 different species have died due to eating or getting tangled up in oceanic plastic waste – that's an embarrassing fact.

We love the outdoors and are grateful for all the affordable fun it provides us. So, as part of our commitment to making sure the earth wins, here are six things you can do this summer to reduce your plastic waste.

1. Use a reusable water bottle

If you're looking for reasons to switch to a reusable water bottle, here are a few: Bottled water is not any healthier or cleaner than tap water – so why spend the extra money and time waiting in line?

The most commonly used plastic in the production of plastic bottles is petroleum-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Manufacturing these bottles requires an estimated 47 million gallons of oil each year. In fact, in the United States alone, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used annually in the production of plastic bottles. That's enough to fuel 100,000 cars for one year!

The global distribution of bottled water creates yet another environmental hazard. The trucks, airplanes, and boats on which the water travels consume even more fossil fuels, while simultaneously causing air pollution and global warming. “The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the energy used to pump, process, transport and refrigerate bottled water is over 50 million barrels of oil annually”. Around our office, we use these tumblers.

2. Bring your own bag when you shop

For those committed to reducing waste, sometimes the hardest part can be remembering to bring the bags along. I have a compact bagu that I keep in my purse at all times – it comes in handy.  For large shopping needs, I keep a few totes in my car.  If you need a cute tote for heavier items, grab one of ours! It's a great way to reduce unnecessary waste.

3. Buy food with limited or no packaging

When you can, buy produce at the farmers market, roadside stalls or stores that provde packaging-free items. It's also a good way to reinforce healthier eating.

4. Pack a picnic in reusable containers

There are countless numbers of reusable lunch containers available today – buy a few that work well for your needs and bring them along to the beach or pool.  Getting in the habit of packing your own snacks will not only save you money, it will also help with eating healthy. We reviewed some of our favorites in Issue no. 4.

5. Invest in quality beach toys

As the carefree days roll on, plastic beach toys often break under the pressure of enthusiastic castle building. Instead of grabbing another bucket and shovel from the local gas station, think about investing in tools that will last longer. Need some ideas? We're a big fan of the San Francisco-based company Green Toys that makes items out of recycled milk bottles. Consider their Sand Set for your summer fun this year (and next!). 

6. Buy better footwear that won't dissolve before the weather turns

When the weather finally warms, sandals take the stage and demand perfectly pedicured toes. The impact of fast fashion can be even worse when it comes to flimsy footwear. Instead of grabbing a pair of cheap flops, consider investing in a well constructed pair that will last for years to come and save some of our ocean friends in the process.

 

Soulful Summer: Better Flip Flops

Fay Johnson

 Photo courtesy of Indosole. Article by Seth Strickland

By Seth Strickland

The benefits of buying better quality sandals are many, and the cost is small. To aid this choice, the deliberateLIFE staff has selected three flip-flops which are fairly and greenly made, won't break the bank, and will look good to boot!

Types of Soles: There are essentially two green schools of thought on the material used to make the soles of sandals: natural rubber, harvested sustainably, or recycled rubber (typically from car tires). The advantage of the first process is that not only is it natural, but it is habituating a method of manufacture for future generations of shoe manufacturers. Its disadvantage is that it is adding more rubber (albeit biodegradable) to an already rubber-filled world. The advantage, on the other hand, of the latter, is that the material already exists in the form necessary – the soles must be cut, but not manufactured from scratch. The disadvantage of this is that the soles are usually petroleum-based.

Quality: When you're at the store or reviewing products online, look for details that indicate that the shoe is made with care and will survive the adventures of summer sun. Are they stitched or glued? Handmade? Are there positive reviews of the product? Quality is one way to reduce the amount of waste created.

Here are three brands that you might want to consider this summer:

Indosole

The first brand we recommend is Indosole, which falls in the latter category. The company is based in San Fransisco but manufactures in Bali. The company promises that its workers work in excellent manufacturing situations. Indosole's flip-flops are made from recycled motorcycle tires by hand, so the manufacturing process itself is largely fuel-free, and on top of all this, the shoes have no leather uppers, so they're vegan as well. This makes a good alternative to a brand like Tevas and is likely to last for at least five years if not longer. For anyone who longs for the days of Simple Shoes again, these are the sandals for you.

Guru

For sandals firmly in the harvested natural rubber camp, look no further than Guru. Their striking aesthetic has roots in ancient Indian sandal designs, but the company is brand-new. They're stylish and simple, fairly inexpensive, and the company is just out of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign. By all accounts, these flip-flops are comfortable and functional while helping the planet.

Feelgoodz

Our final entry in the flip-flop lineup is a much more conventional design. Feelgoodz flip-flops look exactly like other flip-flops, but feel much softer. They come from intentionally fair and empowering materials-sourcing, fair manufacturing, and naturally and sustainably acquired rubber.

This summer consider buying sustainable and long-lasting flip-flops comfortable for the foot and the soul and support businesses doing good.

Two-Wheeling to Work

Seth Strickland

bike-to-work-day-deliberateLIFE.jpg

By Seth Strickland

Biking to work is fun. It's also great for all your muscles (including your heart!), it'll drive you to make better diet choices, and it'll give you a good chance to take a break from the ol' automobile. 

Citi bike has grown steadily more popular, as well as various bike sharing  programs, so it's easier than ever worldwide to get your hands on a bike without having to actually buy one. But, chances are, there's a yard sale down the street, a recently-unexplored garage, or Craigslist, whereat a lonely bicycle is waiting, like a puppy, for you and only you. 

Where to begin riding? Think about your work commute. Is it feasible for you to bike to work? Look for perhaps previously undiscovered bike paths in your community - chances are, if you live in a bicycle-friendly community or an urban environment, there are bike trails all around you. Get in contact with your local bike commission for a bicycling map.

 I'm not advocating, though, that you pick up a bike tomorrow and set off on your 18-mile commute. Unless you do this already, I'm telling you that you're probably not going to make it. Plus, if you do make it, you might, through your tears, wish that you hadn't ever laid eyes on a bicycle nor been born or something foolish like that. But, if you have a commute of three miles or less (or more if you want to!), think about taking a day or two next week and biking to work. See how it feels. 

Think also about the quick run to the store. That store, unless you are suburb-bound, is probably not far away. A backpack and a bike can make that secret exercise. 

Why to begin riding?  Your muscles are something like 50 times more efficient, on average, per calorie, than your car. And, since every gallon of gas you burn releases a pound of carbon dioxide, your pedaling is more efficient and releases next to no carbon dioxide. Plus, there are all those healthy reasons I told you about before. You'll do your body and your surroundings a lot of good.

This week, dust off the old Schwinn, buy a used road bike from your Local Bike Shop (LBS), or teach your kid to ride. This week, pedal deliberately. And wear a helmet.


Sweater Weather

Seth Strickland

Everyone who reads this magazine in a tropical climate can ignore this post. 

For the rest of you: here in the Northern reaches of the East Coast, summer's lease hath all too short a date, and it's nearly time for temperatures to drop and for all of us to pause at a long-neglected spot on the rug and reach for... (cue Psycho  violins) the thermostat! Well, it's not that scary. Cheap thriller tactics. But, as deliberateLIFE  shows you in our issues (and issues - hah!), every decision you make is important for you and for others around you.

Resume scene.

You're reaching for the thermostat, but what kind is it? Not something you've thought of? Let's consider it. If it's one of those thermostats which look like bronze macaroons with a watch-like dial on the top, we'll talk to you in a little bit. Stick around.

If you have a programmable thermostat, listen up. Most people (the author among them) have not ever actually programmed  that sort of thermostat. We're going to encourage you to figure out how to do that if you don't know how - ask the techie friend, the neighbor who turns your laptop on and off when it's broken, a precocious nephew. You'll want to set the temperature of your house to automatically lower at night. Or, you can set up a whole-week program designed to keep the house cool when you're not there, or you're unconscious. Because, if you 1. get eight hours of sleep (as you should!) and 2. turn your thermostat down for those eight hours, you'll save something like 1% of your energy use per degree turned down. Amazing! Try five degrees cooler per night, and see if you can get it down to as much as 15 degrees cooler. You might already know this, but we figured we'd give you some numbers.

Now, for you macaroon people - you can do this too. You'll just have to remember every night to turn down the ol' thermostat. One percent per degree might not sound like a lot. But, if you bump down your thermostat ten degrees every night year-round (it works with the AC too, only the opposite way), you could look at saving 10-15% on your energy bill, and if your house is heated by fossil fuels, you're conserving that much usage which helps make a dent in the 22% of the country's energy usage attributed to residences. 

And now for the fun part! 

For ye olde sufferers (the victims of hard-handed dads who turn the thermostat down to 55 degrees), or those who want to take one or two (degrees) for the team, remember the existence of sweaters. They're warm. They go with everything. They can come from the Alpacas who live down the road (for some of us). They're also renewable insulation - a natural & (possibly) organic way to keep warm. And, best of all, you can knit them for each other. 

So, this lovely autumn, we at deliberateLIFE  encourage you to turn down the thermostat (or program it to do so!), and bundle up a little more. And, if you're savvy, knit a sweater for your buddy/significant other/child/dog. Not only is it soothing, you're helping lower your personal energy consumption.

Fall deliberately.

By Seth Strickland