environment http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/2398/all en-US The High Cost of Keeping Warm http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock-175238511.jpg" alt="Spend less to heat your home" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Feeling chilly? You're not alone. As temperatures plummet across the United States and beyond, people are reaching for their scarves and sweaters, inching up their thermostats, and finding all sorts of other ways to keep warm. How much does it all cost? Here are a few numbers to mull over while you microwave your hot cocoa.</p> <h2>Cost of Keeping Warm</h2> <p>Let's start our look at the costs associated with keeping warm close to home &mdash; in fact this starts right at home.</p> <h3>The Price of Home Heating</h3> <p>Likely one of the biggest ticket items of all is heating your home. The state of Massachusetts, for example, released projections for <a href="http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/misc/household-heating-costs.html" target="_blank">annual home heating costs</a> last year by fuel type. These numbers are staggering, but &mdash; surprisingly &mdash; are down an average of 22% from the previous year.</p> <ul> <li>$879 for natural gas;</li> <li>$2,248 for oil;</li> <li>$2,569 for propane;</li> <li>$697 for electric heating.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Note</strong>: How much you'll spend on heat depends on a number of factors, including how energy efficient your home is, as well as the condition of your furnace or other heating appliances.</p> <p>My husband and I learned the hard way that a new gas furnace and installation can set you back $4,000 or more. And it's not exactly one of those things you can put off until next season or even next week, especially if it dies when the temperatures are below zero and you have a newborn in the house.</p> <h3>The Price of Home Energy Efficiency</h3> <p>Many people choose to undertake big home projects to make their houses more energy efficient. Adding insulation to attics and walls is a popular choice to help keep heat inside. The average cost of installing blown-in insulation ranges from $875 to $1,897, according to HomeAdvisor.</p> <p>Other insulation price averages include:</p> <ul> <li>$1,000 for spray foam insulation;</li> <li>$300 to $500 for fiberglass batt;</li> <li>$675 to $1,075 for reflective or radiant barrier.</li> </ul> <p>Thankfully, this cost is most often a one-time thing. And increasing your home's insulation can help save up to $500 (spray foam) a year in heating/cooling costs. Plus, some states even offer weatherization rebates and tax credits. To see if you apply, visit <a href="http://energy.gov/savings" target="_blank">Energy.gov</a>.</p> <h3>Environmental Costs</h3> <p>Perhaps more important than money, heating homes taxes the Earth's resources. It burns fossil fuels that are in relatively short supply. Not only that, but there's also energy and expense involved in extracting the fuels, transporting them, and &mdash; in the end &mdash; waste that is left behind when the process is done.</p> <p>Currently, fossil fuels are used in the United States to power up to <a href="http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/topics/encyclopedia/fossil-fuels/" target="_blank">81% of our energy needs</a>. And when you're talking about global warming &mdash; a good chunk of that has to do with home heating as well. In 2014, the fossil fuels burned for heating made up <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions" target="_blank">12% of overall greenhouse gas emissions</a>.</p> <h2>Sustainable and Cost-Effective Ways to Cozy Up</h2> <p>There's good news here: You can tweak your routine slightly and still keep warm, all while not breaking the bank or harming the environment.</p> <h3>Layer Up</h3> <p>Before you crank up the heat, look at what you're wearing. Slip on a base layer of a moisture-wicking fabric, like polyester, and don't skimp on the hats and scarves. Yes, even indoors! The folks at The Old Farmer's Almanac remind us to <a href="http://www.almanac.com/blog/editors-musings/blog-keeping-warm-winter" target="_blank">cover our feet as well</a>. Consider buying an inexpensive pair of <a href="http://amzn.to/2hFI0ML" target="_blank">rubber-soled slippers</a> or warming feet with a bulky pair of <a href="http://amzn.to/2hO0TZQ" target="_blank">wool socks</a>.</p> <h3>Program Your Thermostat</h3> <p>You can save up to <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/thermostats" target="_blank">10% off your energy bill</a> by setting your thermostat seven to 10 degrees cooler in the eight hours when you're at work. Better yet, take your own forgetfulness out of the equation and install a <a href="http://amzn.to/2illZ23" target="_blank">programmable thermostat</a> that will automatically do the work for you.</p> <h3>Try the Fan Trick</h3> <p>Switch the direction of your ceiling fan so it will circulate warm air during the winter (usually clockwise). How it works: The air is sucked up by the fan in the center of the room and then pushed down around the edges. The result is a more even temperature throughout the room (and your whole house, if you're performing this trick in multiple rooms).</p> <h3>Fill in Cracks</h3> <p>You may want to take a walk around your home to do a mini energy audit. Basically, you're looking for drafts around windows, doors, and any other openings or cracks in your home. You can inexpensively add weather stripping to doors and windows.</p> <p>You may even want to use some plastic or bubble wrap for particularly drafty windows. To do this yourself, frame the window with double-sided tape, peel off backing, and apply bubble wrap. You may want to add another layer of tape and cover the bubble wrap with <a href="http://amzn.to/2gLzMRy" target="_blank">plastic film insulation</a>.</p> <h3>Use the Sun</h3> <p>Try opening your curtains and letting the sunlight indoors during the day. Alternatively, close the curtains at night to keep the warm air inside. You could also consider investing in some <a href="http://amzn.to/2gLD6ff" target="_blank">thermal curtains</a>. Some claim they can help you save up to 25% on your heating and cooling bills.</p> <h3>Rearrange Your Spaces</h3> <p>Give your rooms a new look and feel by moving furniture around so it won't block vents, radiators, and other heating elements. You don't want your couch hogging all the heat and making your system less efficient. If your floors are bare, add a rug that helps insulate your space and keeps your toes warmer.</p> <p>Oh, and if you have rooms you don't often use, close them up. This way, you're heating a smaller area. Just make sure you close the vents in these spaces.</p> <h3>Use Alternatives</h3> <p>There are other ways to heat your home that don't involve using a furnace or boiler. Wood heat is sustainable &mdash; if carbon intensive &mdash; because it utilizes a renewable resource. Modern woodstoves are much more efficient and produce less pollution than older models. Still, many environmentalists shy from wood because it does cause the most pollution of alternative heating sources. Pellet stoves, on the other hand, run on a similar idea, but they are friendlier to the planet.</p> <p>One of the cleanest alternatives? Harnessing the power of the sun. You may want to look into a solar hot air system to supplement your primary heating source. It involves collectors placed on southern-facing walls and fans to push the air indoors. If you're building a new home, look into passive solar design, which can supply <a href="http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/energy-efficiency/home-heating-options-zm0z12djzsor?pageid=6#PageContent6" target="_blank">50% to 80% of your home's heat</a>.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-marcin">Ashley Marcin</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-some-cash-with-these-6-clever-cleaning-hacks">Save Some Cash With These 6 Clever Cleaning Hacks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/opt-out-of-the-wasteful-26-billion-phone-directory-industry">Opt-out of the wasteful $26 billion phone directory industry</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/14-effective-grease-and-oil-stain-removal-tips">14 Effective Grease and Oil Stain Removal Tips</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-cheap-and-easy-homemade-mosquito-repellents">4 Cheap and Easy Homemade Mosquito Repellents</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-things-in-your-kitchen-that-get-rid-of-bad-smells-naturally">6 Things in Your Kitchen That Get Rid of Bad Smells Naturally</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Home cost-effective heating costs efficiency energy environment heating costs natural gas oil tricks Thu, 22 Dec 2016 11:00:10 +0000 Ashley Marcin 1859597 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Charities You Can Trust With Your Holiday Donations http://www.wisebread.com/8-charities-you-can-trust-with-your-holiday-donations <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-charities-you-can-trust-with-your-holiday-donations" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl_cuddling_dog_485251750.jpg" alt="Girl finding charities she can trust with holiday donations" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>'Tis the season for giving, and giving to charity is the perfect way to help those in need while also helping yourself to a tax break. But how do you know which charities are the best? There are thousands of great charities out there doing amazing things with donated money, but there are also shady charities that are just out to get your money.</p> <p>Here we have collected some of the highest rated charities according to Consumer Reports and Charity Navigator. Whether you are an animal lover or want to help countries in need, there is a charity supporting that cause. Don't see a charity for you on the list? Check out Consumer Reports' full list of the <a href="http://www.consumerreports.org/charitable-donations/best-and-worst-charities-for-your-donations/">highest and lowest rated charities</a> in each category. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-credit-cards-that-give-back-to-charity?ref=seealso">Best Credit Cards That Give Back to Charity</a>)</p> <h2>For Animal Lovers</h2> <p>Our furry friends need our help!</p> <h2>1. World Wildlife Fund</h2> <p>The <a href="http://gifts.worldwildlife.org/gift-center/gifts/Species-Adoptions.aspx">World Wildlife Fund</a> (WWF) allows animal lovers to donate money to help species of wild animals. A $55 donation allows you to help wildlife while also earning you a small animal plush of your choice, photo, adoption of certification, species card, and gift bag. This charity is a fun one if you are looking to give a donation in lieu of a gift, since the WWF donation comes with a little gift.</p> <h3>2. Petsmart Charities</h3> <p><a href="https://www.petsmartcharities.org/">Petsmart Charities</a> is very upfront with how they use donations to make an impact in pets' lives. The site says they save 400,000 pets each year. In 2015, more than $29 million went to animal welfare groups and 214,000 spay/neuter surgeries were performed. They also used 90 cents of every dollar donated to help pets directly. Individuals can donate money or volunteer with Petsmart Charities.</p> <h2>For Environment Protectors</h2> <p>Because the Earth needs us to protect it.</p> <h3>3. Amazon Conservation Association</h3> <p>The <a href="http://www.amazonconservation.org/index.html">Amazon Conservation Association</a> received a perfect score through Charity Navigator, a website devoted to helping individuals find legitimate charities and avoid inefficient charities. The charity has been around for over 15 years and conserves the Amazon. The site says a $50 donation can plant about 50 trees in a highland Andean community.</p> <h2>For Helping People in Need</h2> <p>Not everyone has a roof over their head or enough food to eat.&nbsp;</p> <h3>4. Direct Relief</h3> <p><a href="https://www.directrelief.org/">Direct Relief</a> is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to help and improve the lives of those affected by poverty and emergency situations. It has been one of the top charities to help with Hurricane Matthew and Syrian refugees. It has been voted as a top charity by Forbes, Fast Company, and BBB. Direct Relief also has an option to donate in tribute to someone else, which is practical for holiday gift giving.</p> <h3>5. Compassion International</h3> <p>One of my favorite organizations to donate to is <a href="http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm?gclid=Cj0KEQiAm-CyBRDx65nBhcmVtbIBEiQA7zm8lRk2gj1H17ly97aBsssWbO5UF3DRbLoyRtZ4RqApvx8aAnvM8P8HAQ">Compassion International</a> because you are able to sponsor a child. Not only do you get to choose the child you sponsor and send money to, but you also can send letters, pictures, and small gifts to them. In return, you will be given a picture of the child, as well as updates, and sometimes thank you letters. Many donors have even had the opportunity to go and meet their sponsored child. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-give-to-charity-that-fit-a-holiday-budget?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Give to Charity That Fit a Holiday Budget</a>)</p> <h2>For Health Advancement</h2> <p>A cure is out there. We just need to give scientists the chance to find it.</p> <h3>6. Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research</h3> <p>The <a href="https://www.michaeljfox.org/">Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research</a> goal is to eliminate Parkinson's disease. Over $87 million went straight to research programs in 2015. Overall the foundation has funded more than $650 million to find a cure.</p> <h2>For Veteran Support</h2> <p>After protecting our freedom, our veterans should have everything they need.</p> <h3>7. Homes for Our Troops</h3> <p><a href="https://www.hfotusa.org/">Homes For Our Troops</a> (HFOT) is a privately funded 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds mortgage-free homes for severely injured veterans. Since 2004, HFOT has spent 90 cents for every dollar donated on veterans. The organization has already built 226 homes and has another 80 projects underway nationwide.</p> <h3>8. Operation Homefront</h3> <p><a href="http://www.operationhomefront.net/">Operation Homefront</a> matches specific veterans needs with donors. Donors can donate money or in-kind gifts, such as services or items. Operation Homefront accepts donated in-kind services to include, but not limited to, legal support, automotive repair, heating and air conditioning services, roofing, and accounting services. Donated goods may be items such as gift cards, household items, children's books, furniture, computers, or any other non-monetary items that are new or like new.</p> <h2>How to Avoid a Charity Scam</h2> <p>There are several more amazing charities out there, so don't think that this list is the end all, be all. However, it is important that you know <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away?ref=internal">how to spot a charity scam</a>. Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:</p> <ul> <li>Charities should be upfront with what they are using the funds for.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Charities should have a federal tax ID number so you can write off your donations.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>It's a huge red flag if they are pushing you for donations or ask you to wire the money.</li> </ul> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-eneriz">Ashley Eneriz</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-charities-you-can-trust-with-your-holiday-donations">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-spot-a-charity-scam-from-a-mile-away">How to Spot a Charity Scam From a Mile Away</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-give-to-charity-that-fit-a-holiday-budget">15 Ways to Give to Charity That Fit a Holiday Budget</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-give-back-on-givingtuesday-without-breaking-the-bank">10 Ways to Give Back on #GivingTuesday Without Breaking the Bank</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-greed-is-keeping-you-poor">6 Ways Greed Is Keeping You Poor</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-16-favorite-ways-to-get-rid-of-clutter">My 16 Favorite Ways to Get Rid of Clutter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living animals charity donating environment Giving Back Holidays nonprofits veterans Fri, 09 Dec 2016 11:00:15 +0000 Ashley Eneriz 1849996 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Things We Keep Buying That Are Killing the Planet http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_67797601_XLARGE2.jpg" alt="these products are killing the family" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of us try to reduce our carbon footprint by recycling, flipping off the lights when we leave a room, and weatherproofing our homes. And while those are all important efforts, we sometimes forget that the biggest environmental impact we can make happens at the cash register.</p> <p>As we strive to leave a better planet for our kids and grandkids, it's time to take a new look at how our everyday consumer habits affect the health of our natural environment. Here are eight things we keep buying that are killing the planet &mdash; along with some greener (and less expensive) alternatives.</p> <h2>1. Bottled Water</h2> <p>According to statistics from Ban the Bottle, an environmental organization that advocates for an organized phase-out of the single-use plastic water bottle, Americans toss out 50 billion plastic water bottles every year. Besides the bottles themselves, the plastic netting or wrapping that holds cases of bottles together takes a huge toll on the environment.</p> <p>Instead of single-use water bottles, invest in an easy-to-use filtration pitcher and a refillable metal or glass water bottle that you can use for years. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stuff-we-love-a-lifefactory-reusable-glass-water-bottle?ref=seealso">Stuff We Love: A Lifefactory Reusable Water Bottle</a>)</p> <h2>2. Coffee On-the-Go</h2> <p>That quick cup of coffee we buy on the way to work is composed of three parts: A paper (or worse &mdash; polystyrene) body, a cardboard sleeve, and a plastic lid. One cup every workday means that each of us is contributing 240 cups (or 720 individual pieces of waste) to the landfill every year.</p> <p>The solution? Learn to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-brewing-12-ways-to-make-coffee-at-home">brew a better cup of coffee</a> at home or buy a cheap reusable travel mug and tote it to the coffee shop with you every morning. Besides helping the planet, many coffee vendors offer modest discounts if you BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug).</p> <h2>3. Disposable Flatware</h2> <p>From carry-out restaurant orders, to family barbeques, disposable flatware is everywhere. And every single plastic knife, fork, spoon, and spork we use takes about 1,000 years to disintegrate. That's a big environmental impact for a couple bites of potato salad.</p> <p>Instead of plastic, collect mismatched pieces of stainless steel flatware at garage sales or thrift stores. If you lose a piece, it won't be the end of the world. And most importantly, keep them handy in your purse, computer bag, or a special container in the car.</p> <h2>4. Paper Plates</h2> <p>It's hard to argue that disposable plates have their place &mdash; say a company cookout or similar event where plumbing isn't readily accessible. But I've noticed a curious shift with some of my acquaintances and coworkers &mdash; they're using disposable plates on a daily basis at home simply to make cleanup easier.</p> <p>The old debate about the environmental effects of using paper plates versus the soap, water, and electricity used to clean traditional ceramic dinnerware has been settled. In environmental terms, paper loses. The resources used to manufacture, wrap, ship, and recycle a neverending stream of single-use paper plates make them an ecological burden. Whenever possible, use what's reusable.</p> <h2>5. Disposable Cleaning Cloths</h2> <p>I know they're dirt-grabbing wonders, but those single-use cloths for dusting and floor cleaning are usually made from synthetic material that takes generations to biodegrade. Skip the expense and invest in a microfiber cloth that can be washed and reused.</p> <h2>6. Single-Use Razors</h2> <p>Because of their design (inexpensive metal mixed with plastic) recycling disposable razors is a challenge. As a result, a whopping two billion end up in U.S. landfills each year. If you shave every day, consider buying an electric shaver or a razor that only requires refillable cartridges. Feeling brave? Go old-school and invest in a straight razor.</p> <h2>7. Plastic Bags</h2> <p>According to facts compiled by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Americans go through an estimated 100 billion plastic shopping bags every year, and only 6% are recycled after use. The rest take 1,000 years to fully biodegrade in landfills. While consumers don't technically buy these bags, we can help make them obsolete by choosing (and diligently using!) cotton, canvas, or mesh shopping totes.</p> <p>Have a stockpile of plastic grocery bags in your closet or pantry? Explore some <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/18-clever-ways-to-reuse-your-plastic-shopping-bags">clever ways to reuse them</a>.</p> <h2>8. Meat</h2> <p>According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, an estimated 60% of the earth's greenhouse gas emissions can be tied to animal agriculture. All politics aside, reducing the need to grow crops solely for animal feed means we can devote more land to food crops destined for direct human consumption (maximizing fuel and water resources and minimizing the threat of continued deforestation). Another bonus? <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-money-by-going-mostly-meatless">Going (mostly) meatless saves money</a>. Start by experimenting with alternative sources of healthy protein such as beans, nuts, and quinoa. Integrate meatless main dishes into your meals a few times each week.</p> <p><em>What products have you phased out of your life in an effort to help the environment? Share your ideas with us!</em><strong><br /> </strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-cheap-and-awesome-reusable-replacements-for-disposable-products">17 Cheap and Awesome Reusable Replacements for Disposable Products</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/new-ideas-for-the-chopstick">New Ideas for the Chopstick</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/urban-composting-it-can-be-done">Urban Composting - It CAN be done!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-no-fuss-plants-that-will-brighten-your-home-until-spring">9 No-Fuss Plants That Will Brighten Your Home Until Spring</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-ways-to-reuse-paper">22 Ways to Reuse Paper</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Shopping convenience eat green environment environmental issues green living recycle waste Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:44:20 +0000 Kentin Waits 1789690 at http://www.wisebread.com 9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You Swap Your Car for a Bike http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-you-swap-your-car-for-a-bike <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-you-swap-your-car-for-a-bike" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_riding_bike_62106672.jpg" alt="Woman loving life after swapping her car for a bike" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you ever thought about ditching your car and finding a new way to get around? Making your bicycle your best friend may be the smartest move you can make to save money, burn calories, and generally improve your life.</p> <p>If you're searching for a reason to pull the trigger on the all-bike lifestyle, consider these nine ways that life is an amazing when you eschew the car. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free?ref=seealso">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a>)</p> <h2>1. You'll Save Money on Gas</h2> <p>Okay, so let's say you have a 30-mile roundtrip commute. And let's say you're spending $2.25 per gallon on gasoline. If you get 30 miles per gallon on your car, you're spending about $2.25 a day on gasoline. That's $11.25 a week, or more than $500 per year. Ditch your car, and that's money back in your pocket. And best of all, when gas prices spike, your commuting expenses will stay the same.</p> <h2>2. You'll Save Money on Insurance</h2> <p>No car means nothing to insure. And this means money saved. The average cost to insure even a basic sedan was $1,222 per year in 2015, according to AAA. That's a significant chunk of change back in your pocket.</p> <h2>3. You'll Save Money on Maintenance</h2> <p>A bike might need some repairs and a tuneup now and then, but the cost of this work is nothing compared to a car. AAA reports that the average <a href="http://newsroom.aaa.com/auto/your-driving-costs/">driver spends $792 annually</a> on car maintenance. Add that to the cost of gas and insurance, and you can see the thousands of dollars saved by ditching the car and going for the bike.</p> <h2>4. You'll See More</h2> <p>Whenever I ride my bike, I always end up noticing new things about my surroundings. It might be a new small business in my town, renovations to an old home, or a park in need of some cleanup. It's a rather nice feeling to see your environment unfurl itself in front of you as you ride. It's so much easier to see what's around you when you're not enclosed inside a vehicle.</p> <h2>5. You'll Shop More Locally</h2> <p>One downside to riding a bike everywhere is that you obviously can't haul a lot of stuff. This means no long trips to the Super Walmart for groceries. But, it also means that the shopping you do will be done locally, possibly to the benefit of smaller, independent stores. Proponents of the Shop Local movement claim that if you spend $100 at local small stores, $68 will stay in your community, compared to $43 for big chains.</p> <h2>6. Exercise!</h2> <p>There's no question that cycling is great for your health. According to an online calculator from bicycling.com, a one-hour bike ride at a moderate pace can lead to <a href="http://www.bicycling.com/training/weight-loss/cycling-calories-burned-calculator">more than 500 calories burned</a>, or even 1,000 if you really push the pace. Biking will help you build leg muscles, but is also good for the back and abdomen. And it's generally seen as lower impact than running. One study even suggested that women who bike to work were<a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22525983">significantly less likely to fracture their wrists.</a></p> <h2>7. You'll Look Forward to Going to Work</h2> <p>Who gets excited about sitting in a car in traffic, or stuffing yourself onto a crowded subway car? By incorporating a bike into your commute, you're incorporating an enjoyable activity into your daily drudgery.</p> <h2>8. Your Employer Might Pay You</h2> <p>Good employers want their workers to be healthy, so many will incentivize bike commuting by offering cash back as a fringe benefit. The IRS allows employers to reimburse bicycle commuters up to $20 per month for bike-related expenses, such as storage, repairs, a helmet, or the purchase of a bike itself.</p> <h2>9. You Save Time</h2> <p>You might assume that biking will take longer than driving. But this isn't always the case, research shows. Kiplinger reported that half of the commuting population in the U.S. <a href="http://www.kiplinger.com/article/saving/T012-C000-S001-cut-commuting-costs-by-biking-to-work.html#A2M2E7fbT47UL1Mm.99">travels five miles or less to work</a>, and that riding a bike that distance can often be faster than driving. As a cyclist, you have access to trails, bike lanes, and side roads that will allow you to avoid drivers and traffic jams.</p> <p><em>Have you traded in your car for a bike? How has your life improved? Share with us!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-you-swap-your-car-for-a-bike">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cities-for-going-car-free">5 Best Cities for Going Car-Free</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-reasons-why-i-love-public-transportation">Five Reasons Why I Love Public Transportation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/did-your-car-break-down-check-for-recalled-parts-and-fix-it-for-free">Did your car break down? Check for recalled parts and fix it for free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/when-to-drop-collision-coverage-on-your-car">When to drop collision coverage on your car</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-bicycle-lights">The 5 Best Bicycle Lights</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Cars and Transportation bike bike commute biking car car commute commuting environment exercise saving transportation Mon, 01 Aug 2016 09:00:11 +0000 Tim Lemke 1762106 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Ways the Government Pays You to Live Green http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/couple_riding_bikes_000063700085.jpg" alt="Couple finding ways the government pays them to live green" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Do you care about the planet? Do you care about saving money? Those ideas are not mutually exclusive.</p> <p>If you are environmentally conscious, it's worth knowing that you can &quot;live green&quot; and get help from the government to do so. Federal, state, and local governments offer tax breaks, credits, and straight cash payments to people who keep an eye on their carbon footprints.</p> <p>There is plenty of help available, and it's worth checking with the IRS and your state and local governments to see where you can save. Here are 11 big ways that governments will pay you to live green.</p> <h2>1. Cash for Burning Biomass</h2> <p>Forget the oil burner or electric heat pump. You can get government money by using a biomass stove, which burns things like wood, plants, grass, and even corn. There's a federal tax credit of up to $300 for stoves that use biomass, and some states have additional credits. (Maryland, for example, will rebate up to $700 for a new pellet burning stove.)</p> <h2>2. Tax Breaks for Electric Cars</h2> <p>Electric and hybrid vehicles are cool, but they often have a higher price tag than regular automobiles. So the federal government wants to help out by offering a tax credit of up to $7,500. Take that into account the next time you're eyeing a Tesla, Toyota Prius, or Nissan Leaf.</p> <h2>3. Incentives to Use Alternative Energy</h2> <p>There are are all kinds of incentives for you to electrify your home using something other than fossil fuels. There's a 30% federal tax credit for installing a geothermal heat pump, wind turbines, or solar panels, for example. There are also grant programs at the state and local level. The idea is that these credits will offset at least some of the relatively high cost of installing these systems, thus making it easier financially for homeowners to go green.</p> <h2>4. Money for a Home Energy Audit</h2> <p>There are some local governments that will give you cash just for an examination of how you use energy in your home. In most cases, you will get recommendations on ways to use less energy, but you can get the tax credit even if you don't make any changes. Takoma Park, MD offers $100 just to get the audit done.</p> <h2>5. Money for Windows, Doors, and Skylights</h2> <p>Sometimes getting new windows isn't just about making your house look pretty. If they exceed EnergyStar requirements for efficiency, you can get a tax credit of up to $500 on the cost. Good windows and doors can help keep out drafts and help heating and cooling systems work more efficiently. This credit also applies to new insulation and your roof.</p> <h2>6. Cash Back on Appliances</h2> <p>The federal government used to give credits for energy-efficient refrigerators and the like, but that's been phased out. However, there still may be localities that offer similar incentives for EnergyStar rated appliances. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-small-kitchen-appliances-that-arent-worth-the-money">13 Small Kitchen Appliances That Aren't Worth the Money</a>)</p> <h2>7. Public Transit Subsidies</h2> <p>The federal government and some state governments encourage employers to offer a pre-tax benefit for workers who use public transportation to commute. Under the federal tax break, workers can reduce their taxable income by as much as $255 per month. The federal benefit also works for parking, so it's not entirely a &quot;green&quot; incentive. Some states (including California) allow workers to &quot;cash-out&quot; the parking benefit if they bike, walk, or carpool to work.</p> <h2>8. Bike-to-Work Incentives</h2> <p>The IRS allows employers to reimburse workers for up to $20 a month for expenses related to biking to work.</p> <h2>9. Tax Incentives for Your Home Office</h2> <p>The federal and state government want to make it easier for you to work from home. Many expenses related to having a home office, including equipment, furniture, and some utilities, can be tax deductible. In 2013, the IRS announced a &quot;simplified&quot; deduction that allows for up to $5 per square foot of space used as a home office (up to 300 square feet.) To qualify, you must have a space that is used &quot;exclusively&quot; for work.</p> <h2>10. Tax Deductions for Supporting National Parks</h2> <p>The National Park Service operates 59 parks, most of which are known for their natural beauty and prized by conservationists. If you're the type of person who likes to camp, hike, and climb, your donation to the National Park Foundation is tax-deductible. Additionally, the Park Service will offer free admission to parks on 16 dates in 2016.</p> <h2>11. Cash for Reclaimed Water</h2> <p>In many states, businesses can reduce their taxable income by using reclaimed wastewater, or so-called &quot;greywater.&quot; And homeowners in states including Arizona can get a tax deduction on equipment to allow for recycled water usage. &quot;Greywater&quot; is generally not good to drink, but can be used for toilets, crop irrigation, and other non-potable uses.</p> <p><em>Have you taken advantage of any of these eco incentives?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tim-lemke">Tim Lemke</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-most-common-tax-questions-for-beginners-answered">The 7 Most Common Tax Questions for Beginners, Answered</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-student-loans-impact-your-taxes">4 Ways Student Loans Impact Your Taxes</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-ways-to-have-free-outdoor-fun">50+ Ways to Have Free Outdoor Fun</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-common-tax-mistakes-we-need-to-stop-making">5 Common Tax Mistakes We Need to Stop Making</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Lifestyle Taxes alternative energy deductions electric cars environment incentives Wed, 20 Jan 2016 16:00:03 +0000 Tim Lemke 1639403 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Easy Ways to Start Green Investing http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_recycling_000013114340.jpg" alt="Woman happy because she made environmentally friendly investment" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We'd all love to invest our money in a way that benefits our finances while helping to build a better world. If that sounds like a pipe dream to you, it's not. Impact investing is a growing trend, and there are plenty of ways to do well and do good with your money. Here are five classes of green investments that are kind to the Earth:</p> <h2>1. Green Bonds</h2> <p><a href="http://www.institutionalinvestor.com/gmtl/3382260/Green-Bonds-Planting-Seeds-for-Eco-Friendly-Investment.html#.VRmawpPF-l0">Green bonds</a> are a perfect entry point for someone interested in making a social investment. Like other bonds, you pay a certain amount of money for the bond now to get a larger amount of money at a specific future date. With green bonds, your up-front investment is used to finance environmentally friendly projects. They're relatively low-risk and provide critical funds that are urgently needed in the short-term for these green initiatives.</p> <h2>2. Green Mutual Funds</h2> <p>Chances are that if you have any type of retirement account, at least a portion of it is invested in mutual funds. If you'd like to use that money to support green projects, choose green funds when allocating your investments. Broadly speaking, these investments are also included under the umbrella of socially responsible investments.</p> <h2>3. Green Stocks</h2> <p>As an investor, you also have the option to invest directly in companies that have a green mission, product, or service. This means you can buy stock in a publicly traded company that produces renewable energy products such as solar panels, or any other &quot;green&quot; mission of your choice.</p> <h2>4. Green Startups</h2> <p>One of the riskiest (but perhaps one of the most potentially lucrative) green investments you can make is in a green startup. There are plenty of entrepreneurs who are founding companies in the environmentally-friendly space. They range from new composting techniques, to energy-saving products, to innovative concepts such as carbon credits that are bought and traded to compensate for energy consumption.</p> <h2>5. Sustainable Product Stocks</h2> <p>Many companies are taking up the green mantle by transforming their products and using renewable resources. Some also pledge a portion of their earnings to environmental nonprofits, and support green efforts in the communities where they operate. These companies can contribute enormously to protecting the environment, and supporting their efforts with your investment dollars and purchases can help encourage them to continue and enhance these practices.</p> <p>As always, it's important to make informed investment decisions. It's best to educate yourself about these options by reading about the ins and outs of green investing. I also suggest seeking the advice of a professional financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Together, we can build a bright future for ourselves and for the planet as a whole through our investment dollars.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/christa-avampato">Christa Avampato</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-easy-ways-to-start-green-investing">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-ways-to-invest-50-500-or-5000">The Best Ways to Invest $50, $500, or $5000</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-investment-mistakes-we-all-make">11 Investment Mistakes We All Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-build-an-investment-portfolio-for-under-5000">How to Build an Investment Portfolio for Under $5000</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-assets-you-can-count-on-during-tough-times">8 Assets You Can Count on During Tough Times</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-there-such-a-thing-as-a-safe-investment">Is There Such a Thing as a &quot;Safe&quot; Investment?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Green Living Investment bonds eco-friendly environment mutual funds startups stocks sustainability Wed, 15 Apr 2015 11:00:12 +0000 Christa Avampato 1380916 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Things Most People Don't Realize Are Holding Them Back http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-most-people-dont-realize-are-holding-them-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/4-things-most-people-dont-realize-are-holding-them-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/teenager-distracted-tv-99234771-small.jpg" alt="teenager distracted tv" title="teenager distracted tv" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The fact of the matter is that sometimes there are obstacles working against us that we're simply unaware of. Rather than beat yourself up, it's time to start looking at how various aspects of your life might be thwarting your goals. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-reasons-why-youre-not-reaching-your-goals-and-how-to-change-that?ref=seealso">10 Reasons You Aren't Reaching Your Goals</a>)</p> <p>Here are four common obstacles, and how to fix them.</p> <h2>1. Your Environment</h2> <p>Raise your hand if you ever argued with your parents about studying or doing homework in front of the television.</p> <p>The bad news is that Mom and Dad were right. Studies show that having the television on while studying &mdash; even as background noise &mdash; <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/data-shows-kids-shouldnt-multi.html">leads to lower-quality work</a>. (The better news is that the studies are inconclusive about the distracting nature of music &mdash; so keep your favorite tunes going in the background if you feel like it helps.)</p> <p>Whether you are surrounded by distracting noise, distracting clutter, or distracting comfort (imagine trying to write an essay in your pajamas on your bed), you might find yourself wasting the day away if your environment is not outfitted for your optimal productivity.</p> <h3>The Fix</h3> <p>Work spaces &mdash; from home offices to cube farms &mdash; tend to be set up either how you think they should look, or according to someone else's vision. We often end up forcing ourselves to work in a space that doesn't work for us.</p> <p>In order to optimize your space, take into account your &quot;desire path.&quot; This term, named for the footpaths created as shortcuts when pedestrians repeatedly ignore paved paths, describes how you <em>actually use</em> your space, rather than how you are <em>supposed to use</em> it.</p> <p>For instance, if you set up a very organized office but generally end up doing your work on the kitchen table, take the time to figure out what it is about your desire path that causes you to forgo the office. Following your desire path can help you to determine what you need in order to do your best work.</p> <h2>2. Your Language</h2> <p>A recent UCLA study discovered that differences in <a href="http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/keith.chen/papers/LanguageWorkingPaper.pdf">how languages refer to events</a> in the future can affect our behavior.</p> <p>For instance, English has a very distinct future tense. If we want to talk about tomorrow's weather, we say, &quot;It will rain tomorrow.&quot; In languages with a less distinct future tense (like German, for example), speakers say, &quot;It rains tomorrow.&quot; That difference means that English speakers' brains encode the future as a distinct time from now, while German speakers do not.</p> <p>Where this gets interesting is in the fact that speakers of languages with less distinction between the present and the future &quot;save more, retire with more wealth, smoke less, practice safer sex, and are less obese.&quot;</p> <p>That means we English speakers are at a distinct disadvantage. We already tend to see the future as somebody else's problem because of a cognitive bias known as <a href="http://moneyning.com/money-beliefs/how-hyperbolic-discounting-in-behavioral-economics-explains-your-irrational-money-choices/">hyperbolic discounting</a>. Add in a language that codifies the difference between the present and future, and we are very likely to continue to push today's consequences onto our future selves.</p> <h3>The Fix</h3> <p><a href="http://youtu.be/W-Cz-LK16g4">Jerry Seinfeld has a very funny take</a> on this particular problem. He talks about how when he's Night Guy, he simply doesn't care that Morning Guy has to get up early to go to work.</p> <p>In that humorous observation lies a solution to the problem of English's future tense. Start thinking about what your Morning Guy would most like to wake up to. That might mean you do the dishes tonight, or that you pay yourself first, or that you choose the apple slices rather than the donuts. If you take the time to think about what you will want and how you will feel in the future, it's much easier to act in accordance to that now.</p> <h2>3. Your Smartphone</h2> <p>How long can you go without checking your smartphone for updates? According to a Mobile Mindset study conducted by the security app company Lookout, <a href="https://www.lookout.com/resources/reports/mobile-mindset">60% of respondents check their phone at least once an hour</a>.</p> <p>This kind of addictive behavior is problematic, since it can get in the way of your productivity.</p> <p>And addictive is the operative word. Technology offers us <a href="http://outofthefog.net/CommonNonBehaviors/IntermittentReinforcement.html">intermittent reinforcement</a>: We cannot predict how often we will get an interesting comment, a like, an email, a tweet, or other technological interaction, which makes us crave those interactions even more. Intermittent reinforcement is the reason why gambling is addictive, and it is why smartphones are so tough to quit.</p> <h3>The Fix</h3> <p>It's possible to lose days at a time to noodling away on your phone, so cut off the intermittent reinforcement. First, turn off your notifications. Every time your phone pings to let you know something interesting has happened, you get another little reinforcement. The news will wait, so let it.</p> <p>In addition, you will need to plan ahead when and for how long you will use your phone. When you do play on your phone, set a timer and keep to it. If you train yourself to only use your phone at set times, that habit will replace the check-all-the-time habit you currently have.</p> <h2>4. Your Sleep Schedule</h2> <p>No matter how good your intentions are in the evening, it can seem impossible to get up with the alarm when it goes off at Zero Dark-Thirty. You hit the snooze button two or seven times, stumble out of bed in search of coffee, and barely make it to work on time. You'd love to take advantage of all of the benefits of being an early riser &mdash; like time to exercise and plan your day &mdash; but even when you go to bed earlier, you simply cannot get yourself out of bed early.</p> <h3>The Fix</h3> <p>Part of the reason why it is so difficult to retrain your body to accept early wake-up times has to do with our biology. If you simply go to bed eight hours before you need to be up (which is often how switching to an earlier wake-up time goes), you might find yourself staring at the ceiling, completely awake, until your normal bedtime. You are not listening to your body's sleepiness cues in the evening, which is both frustrating and unproductive.</p> <p>It's for this reason that the <a href="http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/05/how-to-become-an-early-riser/">best strategy for changing your sleep pattern</a> combines biology with a schedule. Instead of simply making your bedtime earlier, wait to go to bed until you are sleepy enough to drift off quickly. (A good sleepiness test is if you can't read more than a page or two of a book without drifting off.)</p> <p>Doing this will mean that you go to bed when you are sleepy and get up at a fixed time. Although you might be dragging the first few days, you'll quickly find that your sleep patterns will realign so that you will feel sleepy at the optimal time for a good night's sleep before your alarm the next morning.</p> <h2>Be the Master of Your Fate</h2> <p>The obstacles to your best self may be physical, cultural, biological, or technological. But you ultimately have control over your life. The best way to take that control is to listen to your own desires and needs while planning ahead. This one-two punch should be enough to tame all those obstacles trying thwart you.</p> <p><em>What's working against you? How will you fix it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-things-most-people-dont-realize-are-holding-them-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-break-bad-habits">How to Break Bad Habits</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-habits-you-must-start-right-now-and-be-a-better-person">20 Habits You Must Start Right Now and Be a Better Person</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-habits-you-must-kick-right-now-and-be-a-better-person">20 Habits You Must Kick Right Now and Be a Better Person</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-bad-habits-that-are-actually-good-for-you">13 &quot;Bad&quot; Habits That Are Actually Good for You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-surprisingly-easy-way-to-change-your-habits-and-your-life">The Surprisingly Easy Way to Change Your Habits and Your Life</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Development addiction bad habits distraction environment habits obstacles Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1207020 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Ways Environment Can Impact Health Insurance Costs http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-environment-can-impact-health-insurance-costs <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/5-ways-environment-can-impact-health-insurance-costs-thursday-bram" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/5-ways-environment-can-im...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/5-ways-environment-can-impact-health-insurance-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009624228XSmall.jpg" alt="sneezing" title="sneezing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="165" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you offer health insurance, the costs can be high. Taking steps to keep those costs down &mdash; along with the costs associated with employees needing to make use of their health insurance, like missed work days &mdash; simply makes sense. It's hard to drop those costs by a lot, but making some changes in your business may be able to improve your employees' environment and reduce costs.</p> <p>The settings that employees work in can have significant impacts on their health and their need for health insurance. It goes beyond the differences between working at a construction site and in an office, as well: No matter what type of business you run, there may be opportunities to improve the environment. Because health insurance providers set costs based on how much they expect your employees to need health insurance, taking steps to improve your situation and bringing them to the attention of your health insurance provider can be worth the effort. Here are some environmental issues to consider:</p> <p><strong>Sedentary Positions Can Lead to Health Problems</strong></p> <p>If an employee doesn't get out from behind his desk much, the likelihood that he will have health problems goes up as a direct result. Research published in <em>Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise</em> shows that even if an individual exercises regularly, simply sitting for long periods of time can increase his or her risk of cardiovascular disease. The first step to reduce the impact of sitting for long periods of time is to encourage regular exercise, but offices can also be designed to get employees to move around regularly. Something as simple as holding meetings while standing can help.</p> <p><strong>Cleaner Air Makes for Healthier Employees</strong></p> <p>Any employee with dust allergies will do better in an environment with cleaner air, and the same is often true for employees with pollen allergies. Both are relatively common allergies and, while they may be minor when compared to other health concerns, there can be cumulative effects. You may even get better productivity out of employees who can breathe easier. You can switch out filters in your ventilation system for a quick fix or bring in an air purifier if your air quality needs to be improved.</p> <p><strong>Good Eating Habits Are Harder in the Office</strong></p> <p>It's very easy to run out and get fast food over the lunch break. Packing a brown bag or seeking out a healthy restaurant is harder. Making good decisions gets that much more difficult when there's a vending machine in the break room or the boss brings in pizza when everyone's working late. While you can't be the food police in your office, there are steps you can take to make it easier for employees to take advantage of healthy options. These can include some careful thought about what food is available at the office, as well as making sure that employees have opportunities to get to healthy restaurants or bring in food from home regularly.</p> <p><strong>OSHA Guidelines Are Minimums</strong></p> <p>In some ways, the regulations set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can be considered minimums. There are almost always opportunities to make a work environment safer. For example, regulations regarding floors and passageways state that they have to be clean, dry, and in good repair. But good repair can be interpreted in different ways. Uneven floors can pass OSHA guidelines (when a building settles and in other circumstances), but even a small change in the evenness of a floor can make for a tripping hazard. Little fixes can make employees less accident-prone. Depending on the work your employees do, taking steps like offering additional safety gear can be helpful.</p> <p><strong>Less-Healthy Behaviors Are Contagious</strong></p> <p>In a tight-knit company, it's easy for employees to share habits and hobbies. Not all habits are good, though, making it likely that if a few members of your team run the risk of health problems, all of them do. Consider smoking: In some groups, it's a social habit. Even if only one or two members of a group smoke, smoke breaks can be a group activity, ensuring that everyone involved gets a dose of second-hand smoke. Luckily, good habits are also contagious and can be encouraged through setting a good example as well as giving incentives to establish better routines.</p> <p><strong>The Impact on Your Health Insurance</strong></p> <p>Some health insurance providers offer incentives for both employers and employees if the employees improve their health overall by joining a gym, quitting smoking, and taking similar steps. It's a good decision, both in terms of finances and health, to find out what opportunities your health insurance provider offers. Even if direct incentives aren't available, it's worth talking to your agent. In some cases, if you can demonstrate that your employees' use of their health insurance has dropped, you can get your rates reduced.</p> <p>On many of these workplace environment issues, you will need to get your employees' help to move forward. Buy-in is necessary if you want your employees to change their habits, at the very least. While you can easily set policies about healthy behaviors, it can be hard to enforce such policies without causing problems with your staff. Furthermore, in some cases, you need your employees to agree to these changes even when they're out of the office. Take smoking for example: Many businesses now have policies against employees smoking at work. That won't ever stop employees from actually smoking, though &mdash; it just means that they aren't smoking in the office. It's worth reminding them that not only would taking some of these steps help them with their overall health, but they could bring down their costs as well, both in terms of what they contribute to their health insurance plan and their out-of-pocket expenses.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/thursday-bram">Thursday Bram</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/5-ways-environment-can-impact-health-insurance-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-ways-to-get-a-small-business-loan">10 Smart Ways to Get a Small Business Loan</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-protect-your-business-during-a-divorce">5 Ways to Protect Your Business During a Divorce</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center employee benefits environment health insurance small business Wed, 10 Nov 2010 23:48:44 +0000 Thursday Bram 281093 at http://www.wisebread.com Save the Planet: Work at Home http://www.wisebread.com/save-the-planet-work-at-home <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/save-the-planet-work-at-home" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009596496.jpg" alt="Telecommute" title="Telecommute" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If every person in the U.S. with a telecommuting-compatible job worked at home on Earth Day, collectively it would:</p> <ul> <li>Save 900 Million vehicle miles<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save 45 Million gallons of gas &mdash; $188 Million in consumer savings<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save 2.3 Million barrels of oil &mdash; valued at $185 Million<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Eliminate 423,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases &mdash; the equivalent of taking 77,000 cars off the road for a year<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save 28 million kWh in net electricity &mdash; enough to power 2,600 homes for a year<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Save 775 people from traffic injury and deaths</li> </ul> <p>Less than 2% of U.S. employees work from home the majority of the time (not including the self-employed), but 40% could. If they did so just half of the time (roughly the national average for those who do), as a nation we would save over a half a trillion dollars a year and much more.</p> <p>Telecommuting &mdash; specifically, home based work &mdash; offers a relatively simple, inexpensive solution to some of the world&rsquo;s most vexing problems:</p> <ul> <li>Environmentalists applaud telecommuting because it significantly reduces greenhouse gases and energy usage.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Astute company owners support telecommuting because of the cost savings and increased productivity.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Work-life experts endorse telecommuting because it addresses the needs of families, parents, and senior caregivers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Workforce planners see telecommuting as away to avoid the &lsquo;brain drain&rsquo; effect of retiring boomers.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Human resource professionals see telecommuting as a way to recruit and retain the best people.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Employees see telecommuting as a way to save time and money, and improve the quality of their lives.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Baby Boomers find telecommuting offers a flexible alternative to full retirement.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Gen Y&rsquo;ers see telecommuting as a way to work on their own terms.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Disabled workers, rural residents, and military families find home-based work an answer to their special needs.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Urban planners realize telecommuting can reduce traffic and revitalize cities.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Governments see telecommuting as a way to reduce highway wear and tear and alleviate the strain on our crumbling transportation infrastructure.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Organizations rely on telecommuting to ensure continuity of operations in the event of a disaster or pandemic &mdash; all federal workers are required to telecommute to the maximum extent possible for just this reason.</li> </ul> <p>It's time we made the road less traveled the way to work. Let's start with Earth Day.</p> <p><em>Editor's note: Kate Lister was the principal researcher at <a href="http://teleworkresearchnetwork.com/">TeleworkResearchNetwork.com</a></em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-lister">Kate Lister</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-the-planet-work-at-home">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-finding-legitimate-work-at-home-opportunities">Tips for Finding Legitimate Work at Home Opportunities</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">The High Cost of Keeping Warm</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet">8 Things We Keep Buying That Are Killing the Planet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green">11 Ways the Government Pays You to Live Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-cheap-building-supplies-and-a-way-to-help-your-community">Super-Cheap Building Supplies and a Way to Help Your Community!</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income Green Living Earth day environment telecommute work at home Thu, 22 Apr 2010 12:00:02 +0000 Kate Lister 38832 at http://www.wisebread.com Only Celebrate A Few Select Birthdays http://www.wisebread.com/only-celebrate-a-few-select-birthdays <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/only-celebrate-a-few-select-birthdays" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/61nH0aYNyOL._SS500_.jpg" alt="Patton Oswalt" title="Patton Oswalt" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="250" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>What if we suddenly stopped celebrating every single birthday in our lives, and instead concentrated on just the important ones? Would you care? Would you support it? I&rsquo;ll tell you one thing&hellip;we&rsquo;d all save a bunch of money.</p> <p>The idea comes from one of my favorite comedians, Patton Oswalt. If you don&rsquo;t know the name, you&rsquo;ll certainly know the voice; he played Remy in <em>Ratatouille</em>. He was also Spence Olchrin in <em>The King Of Queens</em>, and he&rsquo;s an exceptional comedian.</p> <p>On his CD <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RGSOM8?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=wisebread07-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000RGSOM8"><em>Werewolves And Lollipops</em></a> he outlines a plan to stop the celebration of most birthdays, saying that there&rsquo;s nothing special about most of them. And, he&rsquo;s right. What&rsquo;s so special about hitting 36 (my next birthday)? Or 42? Or even 14? They&rsquo;re not landmark dates in your existence. They&rsquo;re just another year.</p> <p>The full list is printed below, and you can also <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJnCHy0p6n4">listen to Patton</a> (be warned, Patton uses language that is NSFW).</p> <p><strong>Birthdays you can and cannot celebrate.</strong></p> <p>1 thru 9 &mdash; YES. You&rsquo;re a little kid, and kids should get to celebrate birthdays.</p> <p>10 &mdash; YES. You&rsquo;ve entered the double digits. Something different has happened, you get a birthday.</p> <p>11-12 &mdash; NO. Nothing special about those years.</p> <p>13 &mdash; YES. Now you&rsquo;re a teenager, and that&rsquo;s worth celebrating.</p> <p>14-15 &mdash; NO. Again, nothing special here.</p> <p>16 &mdash; YES. The laws have changed. Now you can drive, that&rsquo;s worth celebrating.</p> <p>17 &mdash; NO. What&rsquo;s special about being 17? Exactly.</p> <p>18 &mdash; YES. Awesome birthday. You can vote and own a gun. This is all worth celebrating (and if you&rsquo;re in other countries including England, you can drink alcohol). Now that is worth a party.</p> <p>19 &mdash; YES. It&rsquo;s your last year as a teenager.</p> <p>20 &mdash; YES. You&rsquo;ve entered your twenties.</p> <p>21 &mdash; YES. Awesome birthday, you&rsquo;re as adult as you can get. Hit the bars.</p> <p>And then&hellip;only one birthday every 10 years (30, 40, 50, 60 and so on) until you hit 90. After 90, you get a birthday every year because one law no longer applies to you!</p> <p>Now, as 90 is a rare age for most of us to reach, I&rsquo;d say most of us are in for 22-23 birthday celebrations in our lifetime. That&rsquo;s a lot less than 70-80. And think of all the money that we wouldn&rsquo;t have to spend. At Hallmark, they&rsquo;d see their profits go down the toilet, but personally I wouldn&rsquo;t shed a tear. Charging an average of $5 for a piece of card you read once and throw away is something of an extravagance anyway. And think of all the trees and resources we&rsquo;d save!</p> <p>Not only that, but once you reach the adult years, you usually don&rsquo;t want for that much anyway. As a kid, you have no income. Your birthdays are what you rely on for toys, clothes, games, and candy. But as a 36 year old, I&rsquo;ll be getting stuff for my birthday that I could afford anyway. I usually have to search my brain for days to come with ideas for people. And they&rsquo;re the same. My dad&rsquo;s birthday is in a few weeks. He had no idea what he wanted, so I bought him some DVDs. He&rsquo;s probably seen them, he may even have them, and who knows if he even wants them.</p> <p>Now I&rsquo;m not saying we should treat the day like any other. By all means, go have a few drinks after work or take a trip to the movies. Have a good meal. But do we really need to continue spending all of this money on each other, buying junk we don&rsquo;t need for people who don&rsquo;t want anything, just because we&rsquo;ve reached the grand old age of 27 or 43? Many people in this world would be thankful for a healthy meal and sanitary water every day, and the money we throw at each other on gifts, cards, and endless wrapping could more than pay for that.</p> <p>This idea may have started as a joke, but I think it&rsquo;s far from just a bit of comic relief. Think it over.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/only-celebrate-a-few-select-birthdays">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs">7 Ways To Lower Water Heater Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green">11 Ways the Government Pays You to Live Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/life-without-toiletpaper-bum-deal">Life Without Toiletpaper - Bum Deal?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Lifestyle birthdays conserve environment funny jokes Mon, 08 Feb 2010 14:00:02 +0000 Paul Michael 5112 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Buy Personal Carbon Credits That Count http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-personal-carbon-credits-that-count <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-buy-personal-carbon-credits-that-count" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6982028631_2ea89088f4_z.jpg" alt="wind farm" title="wind farm" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The notion behind carbon offsets, or credits, is simple. You're living your life, and if you're living in the developed world, you're probably producing more greenhouse gases than you're consuming. While you're driving to work, or <a title="8 Tips for Planning a Last-Minute Wedding" href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-tips-for-planning-a-last-minute-wedding">planning your wedding</a>, someone else is working to design alternative energy technology or replanting a tropical forest. The carbon exchange market lets people and businesses invest money into those green projects based on how much carbon they're producing. People are using this system to offset the &quot;carbon cost&quot; of everything from weddings to international travel to political campaigns. (See also: <a title="25 Eco-Friendly Changes You Can Make Today" href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-eco-friendly-changes-you-can-make-today">25 Eco-Friendly Changes You Can Make Today</a>)</p> <p>There is a carbon market, like the stock market, called the <a href="http://www.chicagoclimatex.com/">Chicago Climate Exchange</a>, where carbon credits are bought and sold. Each credit represents a financial investment equal to the cost of removing one metric ton of C02 from the atmosphere. The notion of carbon marketing first got traction with the <a href="http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php">Kyoto Protocol</a> in the late 90s, which requires large businesses and governments to cap carbon production and trade carbon credits to balance out their carbon emissions. The U.S. still does not participate in Kyoto, so for now all our carbon trading is strictly voluntary. The Chicago Climate Exchange is a legally binding system, though, in which participating companies are required to do what they say they'll do to offset climate change.</p> <p>Several rock stars and politicians, our current president among them, have made their commitment to carbon neutrality the stuff of headlines. Buying carbon offsets is part of how they do it.</p> <p>But carbon offsets are not just for celebrities and big business. There are dozens of companies that broker these carbon credits in small numbers for green-minded individuals and families. I recently bought a new-to-me car after a brief assay into the world of car-free living. I'm sure there are mamas out there who can cheerfully tote two car seats and two little kids four blocks down a busy street in the rain to a <a href="http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-2822544-11220075">Zipcar</a> lot, but I am not that woman. I am the kind of Mama who wants to put her money where her mouth is on climate change, though, so I started looking into buying carbon offsets for the driving I'll be doing.</p> <p>Let me tell you, it's a jungle out there. There are dozens of companies offering &quot;carbon credits&quot; to individuals, and numerous, competing third-party systems to &ldquo;verify&rdquo; their work. There is no single accepted standard for verifying that these companies actually carry out the projects they claim to be investing in. Determining the benefit of these projects can be even trickier. To make matters worse, a project might technically meet the standards for getting greenhouse gases out of the air, but do so at a high cost to the local economy or indigenous culture.</p> <p>There is a <a href="http://www.cdmgoldstandard.org/">Gold Standard</a> endorsed by the United Nations and the World Wildlife Federation. This standard takes into account not only the efficacy of the projects being funded, but also the accuracy of the carbon exchange accounting and the impact these projects have on other factors like local cultures and economies.</p> <p>Like any marketplace, there are good carbon offset deals and bad ones. One company charges less than $3 for a carbon credit, while another charges over $20. What's the difference? The cost difference is not closely tied to the benefits the project grants. Remember, each carbon credit is supposed to be good for 1 ton of CO2 removal, whether it costs to $3 or $20 to get the job done.</p> <p>How can you sort this out and know your carbon credits really count? Start with the United Nations excellent, free e-book on the topic, <a href="http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/kick-the-habit/Default.aspx?bid=ID0ESF">Kick the Habit</a>. This quick read will bring you up to speed on the basics of carbon offsetting, and help you understand the emerging standards for this market. It also gives some great resources for choosing an offset company to work with.</p> <p>Based on their findings and recommendations, we opted for <a href="https://climatefriendly.com/">Climate Friendly</a> to buy our new-car carbon offsets. An Australian-based company, Climate Friendly won high marks for accuracy and efficiency. They also have one of the lowest overhead budgets, so more dollars go directly into the projects they fund. The one downside: unlike some of their competitors, they won't be sending us a cute sticker to put on our windshield. I bet stickers aren't the most sustainable thing on the planet.</p> <p>The good news: after radically changing our lives to reduce our driving, we only had to pay about $50 a year to offset the driving we still do. A very worthwhile investment, in my book.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sierra-black">Sierra Black</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-personal-carbon-credits-that-count">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-high-cost-of-keeping-warm">The High Cost of Keeping Warm</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-things-we-keep-buying-that-are-killing-the-planet">8 Things We Keep Buying That Are Killing the Planet</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-the-government-pays-you-to-live-green">11 Ways the Government Pays You to Live Green</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-life-is-wonderful-when-you-swap-your-car-for-a-bike">9 Ways Life Is Wonderful When You Swap Your Car for a Bike</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/car-sharing-why-own-when-you-can-just-share">Car Sharing: Why Own When You Can Just Share?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Green Living carbon credits carbon offsets environment Thu, 12 Nov 2009 16:00:42 +0000 Sierra Black 3821 at http://www.wisebread.com Are Most Businesses Going Green Just to Save Some Green? http://www.wisebread.com/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/335844468_8938ff60cd.jpg" alt="green green" title="green green" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">I heard an interesting story the other day. A radio DJ was annoyed because when he went to pick up his boarding passes from the check in counter, he was handed them without any kind of ticket wallet to keep them together. The reason: <em>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s our effort to save the environment sir.</em>&rdquo; But was it really just an effort to save money?</p> <!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><!--[if !supportEmptyParas]--><p>&nbsp;</p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">When you think about it, airlines are hardly the greenest of companies. When you get to you gate, you are presented with your jet plane complete with thousands of gallons of fuel. The haze of fumes rising from the fuel is enough to make you think you&rsquo;re witnessing an oasis in the desert.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But still, every little helps. And yet when the DJ was informed of the disappearing wallets for boarding passes and ticket stubs, he was more than a little cynical. <em>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t buy it. Are they being green, or just saving some green?&rdquo;</em> he asked his audience.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">It&rsquo;s a legitimate question. Is it fair for businesses to hide cost-cutting exercises under the guise of environmentally friendly intentions? It seems more than a little sneaky to me. After all, if they&rsquo;re making these cuts for the planet, and not for profit, then shouldn&rsquo;t we see some of that money coming back to us in the form of lower prices?<span style=""> Most likely, any cuts that are made benefit the corporations and their shareholders, not the general public.</span></p> <!--[endif]--><!--[endif]--><p><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoNormal">When I started looking for other examples of &ldquo;green initiatives&rdquo; I did start to wonder if the planet really was the cause for the change, or was it simply done as a way to increase the health of the corporation&rsquo;s bottom line.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">From cheaper, recycled toilet papers, to decreased services in hotels and restaurants, I noticed the influence of the environment everywhere. On a flight recently, I was asked to re-use the same plastic cup. In a hotel, the towels were only washed if I specifcally requested it. At a New York pizzeria, napkins were limited to THREE per customer. (I only needed one by the way, but if you've ever eaten out with young children, those three napkins would have been stretched thin.) Ironically, in that same pizza place I saw that the prices had actually gone up, with makeshift stickers being placed over cheaper prices. The economy is certainly taking its toll, and yet the environment is supposedly the cause of the cutbacks.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Now I, for one, like that we&rsquo;re saving the planet in any way that we can. And I love that our corporations are embracing it. But it does make me wonder what the real reason for change is.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Have you noticed these changes around you? Have you been charged MORE for green products and services that actually cost less to produce and maintain than the non-green versions? Have you ever felt a nagging doubt that profit was the real reason for change, not the environment?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">At the end of the day, I suppose it shouldn&rsquo;t matter too much. After all, if the business saves money and helps the environment in the process, regardless of their intention, then that&rsquo;s a good thing, right? But when you see no added benefit in the form of a price reduction, or you even see a price hike for going green, well that leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.</p> <!--EndFragment--><!--EndFragment--><p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth">There are Cheaper Ways to Return to a Greener Earth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/super-cheap-building-supplies-and-a-way-to-help-your-community">Super-Cheap Building Supplies and a Way to Help Your Community!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/our-obsession-to-clean-is-making-us-trashy">Our Obsession to Clean is Making Us Trashy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs Green Living cutbacks environment green prices Wed, 02 Sep 2009 14:00:03 +0000 Paul Michael 3564 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways To Lower Water Heater Costs http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/shower_0.jpg" alt="water shower" title="water shower" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="175" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your water heater can account for <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/changing-habits.html">13% of home energy costs</a>.&nbsp; The good news is that there are small, easy tweaks you can make to lower those costs and conserve energy at the same time.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Use less</strong><br /> Nora has a bunch of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-the-planet-one-drop-at-a-time">great suggestions to reducing water use</a>, but when it comes to hot water specifically, it's the shower that keeps most people raising the dial on their water heaters. Use low-flow showerheads, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-take-a-shower-in-sixty-seconds-or-less">take quicker showers</a>, turn off the water when you are soaping up, and stick with mild, lukewarm water. It's really not so bad -- trying to change your shower habits.&nbsp; Try <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/no-hot-water-now-what">going without a water heater at all</a>, and you'll realize you need a lot less hot water than you think.</p> <p>Also consider using cold water to wash your clothes. About <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/changing-habits.html">90% of the energy use</a> in a clothes washer goes to water heating. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-clothes-last-longer-without-spending-big">Cold water washing</a> also helps clothes last longer!</p> <p><strong>Turn it down</strong><br /> Your water heater maintains its temperature 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.&nbsp; That takes a lot of energy.&nbsp; The standard setting is 140&ordm;F but most households should get by comfortably at <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">120&ordm;F</a>.&nbsp; For every 10&ordm;F you turn down on your water heater, you save <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090">3%-5% in energy costs</a>. Turning it down to 120&ordm;F could cut your costs by 6%-10%.&nbsp; As long as you are reducing your use with the tips above, you won't even notice.&nbsp; Make sure to consult your manual for proper instructions on adjusting the thermostat. For example, the <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090">electricity should be turned off</a> before adjusting electric water heaters.</p> <p><strong>Turn it off</strong><br /> If you're going off on vacation, turn the temperature way down, or completely off. When you get home, you'll just need to wait about <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">an hour to reheat</a> before the hot water gets back in service. If you have a gas heater, make sure you know how to <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13090">relight the pilot light</a> before turning it off (or just turn it down without completely turning it off).</p> <p><strong>Insulate</strong><br /> Adding insulation is inexpensive and can reduce standby heat losses by 25%-45%, saving you <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13070">4%-9% in water heating costs</a>. Check to see if your heater has a R-value of at least 24 (if your water heater is less than ten years old, it&rsquo;s likely it&rsquo;s already <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">optimally insulated</a>). You can also do a touch test &ndash; if it&rsquo;s <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13070">warm to the touch</a>, it needs additional insulation. Make sure to check your manual for insulation instructions.</p> <p><strong>Set a timer</strong><br /> Again, a lot of energy is used to keep the water hot 24 hours a day. And really, you only need it a few times a day. If you have an electric water heater, a timer can be installed to turn it off during off peak hours (at night after you go to bed). This can save <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13110">5%-12% of energy</a>. For gas heaters, you can keep it turned down most of the time, and then manually turn it up about a half hour before you need it. Timers cost about $60 and should <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13110">pay for themselves in about a year</a>.</p> <p><strong>Reuse </strong><br /> Hot water that goes down the drain carries away energy with it. That can be <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13040">80%&ndash;90% of the energy</a> used to heat water in a home. Drain-water (or greywater) heat recovery systems capture this energy to preheat cold water entering the water heater or going to other water fixtures. Heat can be recovered from hot water used in showers, sinks, dishwashers, and clothes washers. Prices for drain-water heat recovery systems range from $300 to $500 (and you&rsquo;ll need a qualified plumbing and heating contractor to install the system). It can take <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13040">2.5 to 7 years</a> to recover that cost in savings, depending on how often the system is used.</p> <p><strong>Buy a more efficient one</strong><br /> If your water heater is old, it might be good to look into getting a new one. New water heaters today are considerably <a href="http://www.montana.edu/cpa/news/nwiprint.php?article=6503">more energy efficient</a> than those of 20 years ago. In addition, Energy Star models can be <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/tools/energy_tips.html">15% more efficient</a> than standard models. Look for one with heat traps, which <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13100">prevents convective heat losses</a> through the inlet and outlet pipes. Find the <a href="http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=12770">best type of water heater</a> for your home and look for <a href="http://www.fypower.org/res/tools/rgl.html">rebates and incentives</a> for energy-efficient appliances and equipment.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lynn-truong">Lynn Truong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-frugal-skills-you-must-have-to-survive-mondays">12 Frugal Skills You Must Have to Survive Mondays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill">Six Ways to Stay Warm and Reduce the Heating Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-daylight-saving-time-a-complete-waste-of-energy">Is daylight-saving time a complete waste of energy?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth">There are Cheaper Ways to Return to a Greener Earth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/hold-off-on-heating-with-these-10-warming-ways-0">Hold Off On Heating with These 10 Warming Ways</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Life Hacks bills conserve energy environment green heating water heater Mon, 12 Jan 2009 01:24:22 +0000 Lynn Truong 2730 at http://www.wisebread.com Is the courtesy flush dead? http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2433639188_d0b4823567.jpg" alt="Toilet graveyard" title="Toilet graveyard" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="rteindent1">Nora&rsquo;s recent article &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/saving-the-planet-one-drop-at-a-time">Saving the planet - one drop at a time&rdquo;</a> rang a bell with me as I was sat in the men&rsquo;s bathroom at work yesterday. All the stalls were occupied and every minute I heard flushing. It was constant. This once kind act of &ldquo;courtesy flushing&rdquo; may now be offensive considering the state of the planet&hellip;and the price of the water bill. </p> <p><a href="http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-courtesy-flush.htm">WiseGeek </a>describes the act of courtesy flushing in some detail:</p> <blockquote><p class="rteindent1">A courtesy flush can occur during or after the act of defecation, particularly when using public facilities. A courtesy flush is meant to be just that, a courtesy for others. If you know ahead of time you are about to pay the price for last night's overindulgences, you may want to consider flushing the toilet several times during your visit in order to minimize unpleasant odors. The common belief is that most unpleasant odors are generated between delivery and reception, if you get my drift. This type of courtesy flush is supposed to take the offenders out of the game as soon as possible, thus reducing the total exposure time for others.</p> <p>There are others who suggest a courtesy flush should be coordinated with emanations of unknown origin. Trapped gases or explosive diarrhea can create embarrassing sounds, along with a vapor cloud banned as inhumane after World War I. A well-timed courtesy flush should cover up any unexpected developments both tangible and intangible. Arguments against a courtesy flush of this type generally involve the principles of flowing water and suction. Finally, and I for one cannot use that word quickly enough, there is the post-ceremonial courtesy flush. No one likes to leave a bad impression, and few things qualify as well as an unflushed or underflushed toilet. For some users, the paperwork may not be completely finished, which should prompt a courtesy flush in order to leave a clean bowl behind. Others may find a second or even third courtesy flush may be in order to deal with things which cannot seem to accept their fate with dignity.</p> </blockquote> <p class="rteindent1">I think that covers it. But look at the number of uses contained in that long write-up of the humble courtesy flush. There&rsquo;s pre-flushing, mid-flushing, post-flushing, stubborn-stain flushing and strategic flushing to cover embarrassing sounds. </p> <p>In the perfect storm of a bad stomach upset and a particularly embarrassed toilet user, there could be as many as six or seven flushes in one sitting. It could even get into double figures. Even with today&rsquo;s low-flow toilets that use only 1.6 gallons per flush (toilets in the 50&rsquo;s used SEVEN gallons), you&rsquo;re looking at over 10 gallons of water for one toilet visit. </p> <p>Even if you only do one courtesy flush, you&rsquo;re still doubling the number of gallons that should be used in a &ldquo;number two&rdquo; scenario. Now consider that the <a href="http://www.waterinfo.org/resources/water-facts">average African family</a> uses just five gallons of water per day, compared to the astonishing 176 gallons of the average American (not American family, just one American). </p> <p>A courtesy flush here or there may seem like nothing, but you&rsquo;re literally flushing away one of the most valuable commodities on the planet. We use it with reckless abandon while in third world countries, people are traveling for hours in the baking sun for water that we wouldn&rsquo;t wash our dogs with. This is messed up. </p> <p>I say the courtesy flush should be no more. Banish it. Forget it. I don&rsquo;t care if you&rsquo;re producing noxious aromas that would shame a flatulent elephant, it&rsquo;s just not worth it. And as for the embarrassment factor, are you serious? Show me one person who doesn&rsquo;t make sounds in the bathroom and I&rsquo;ll show you a liar. We all do it. So what?</p> <p>If the smells are really troubling to you, there are other solutions. You can invest in odor reduction toilets which release small amounts of deodorant during your toilet stay. You can also buy sprays like <a href="http://www.courtesyflush.com/shoppingcart/">Courtesy Flush </a>which banish odors with a simple squirt.</p> <p><img src="http://i158.photobucket.com/albums/t81/pmsuggett/2037335070_4d57b0c66d.jpg" style="width: 339px; height: 254px;" alt="" /></p> <p>Some toilets in Europe have been fitted with two flushes, one heavy and one light, to deal with number one and number two. Makes sense, although some customers have been using the light flush as the courtesy flush. Not good enough. </p> <p>Bottom line; the planet can&rsquo;t afford the courtesy flush any more. If we&rsquo;re down to saving the planet one drop at a time, we can certainly make a difference by eliminating the millions of gallons wasted every year due to politeness or shame. Do your part folks.&nbsp; <br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth">There are Cheaper Ways to Return to a Greener Earth</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/our-obsession-to-clean-is-making-us-trashy">Our Obsession to Clean is Making Us Trashy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-daylight-saving-time-a-complete-waste-of-energy">Is daylight-saving time a complete waste of energy?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-end-of-the-energizer-bunny-six-products-that-dont-need-batteries">The end of the Energizer bunny: SIX products that don&#039;t need batteries.</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Consumer Affairs Green Living Lifestyle bathroom environment flushing green toilet Thu, 11 Dec 2008 18:49:29 +0000 Paul Michael 2641 at http://www.wisebread.com There are Cheaper Ways to Return to a Greener Earth http://www.wisebread.com/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/green burial.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">The web is full of ways to live green, but have you ever thought about being Earth-friendly in your death?<span> </span>While it’s not always pleasant to think about, maybe we should.<span> </span>If you want to be sure that you have a full and ecologically responsible life, maybe “greener” burial products are for you. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The <a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/">Green Burial Council</a>, founded in 2005, has a unique perspective on death and burial services.<span> </span>In an attempt to reduce the “waste” that is caused by traditional American practices, it has created a host of sustainable deathcare options.<span> </span>Yes, I said “deathcare.”<span> </span>Whether you are looking to be buried or cremated, there are better choices, and many of them are far cheaper than the norm.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Before my look at the Green Burial Council, I was unaware of the dangers that come with the continuation of our current burial practices, which include: </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Embalming</strong> – This traditional process uses fluids containing formaldehyde, which has the potential to seep into groundwater.<span> </span>While the EPA acknowledges its role as a possible carcinogen, the World Health Organization goes a step further, labeling it as dangerous. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Vaults</strong> – These large concrete “tombs” make up 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, which end up below ground.<span> </span>They are not required by law, but are often a basic requirement by traditional home funerals and burials. </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong>Cremation</strong> – While it leaves far less behind to deal with, cremation has started to cause concern with the amount of fossil fuels required to perform the procedure.<span> </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">As an increasing number of Baby Boomers make plans for their departure, this has never been a more relevant time for change.<span> </span>With the Council working to <a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/standards.htm">standardized requirements</a> to become a “<a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/conservationburialground.htm">Conservation</a>,” “<a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/naturalburialground.htm">Natural</a>,” or “<a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/hybridburialground.htm">Hybrid</a>” Burial Ground, there may be hope in our lifetime for more responsible practices. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">It may take some adjusting to accept the Best Practices of the GBC, which include home funerals, dry ice preservation for open viewings, and bio-degradable paper shrouds.<span> </span>But if the cost of these uniquely old-fashioned methods is any less than what funeral homes currently require, I think people will become more open to it.<span> </span>For a complete list of green funeral providers, cemeteries, and products near you, see the Council’s <a href="http://www.greenburialcouncil.org/providers.htm">approved list</a>. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><em>Want to see the most fabulously comprehensive piece on green funerals?<span> </span><a href="http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/03/how-to-green-your-funeral.php">This article at TreeHugger</a> has everything you need to know about green funerals, how to make your wishes known, and where to begin the journey for planning out the end of your journey.</em></strong></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/there-are-cheaper-ways-to-return-to-a-greener-earth">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/times-are-tough-would-you-consider-a-diy-funeral">Times Are Tough; Would You Consider A DIY Funeral?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-the-courtesy-flush-dead">Is the courtesy flush dead?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/our-obsession-to-clean-is-making-us-trashy">Our Obsession to Clean is Making Us Trashy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/oprah-asks-a-great-question-what-can-you-live-without">Oprah Asks A Great Question; What Can You Live Without?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-most-businesses-just-going-green-to-save-some-green">Are Most Businesses Going Green Just to Save Some Green?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living Consumer Affairs Green Living burial cremation environment funeral green Wed, 14 May 2008 03:46:32 +0000 Linsey Knerl 2090 at http://www.wisebread.com