Knowledge Is Power: The Importance of Environmental Education in Schools

If you’ve ever watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons, when it came to the kids, if there’s one thing that didn’t need to be a concern, it was when it came to the importance of environmental education. The children usually walked (miles) to school, fished as a form of entertainment and when it came to farming, it was a something that was considered to be a household activity.

We are light years away from that now. In many ways, that’s a good thing, but in others, it has cost us. One of the main reasons that people are becoming more and more concerned for today’s youth is that technology has consumed many kids to the point of them obsessing over their cell phones, tablets and Facebook accounts. Matter of fact, one study cited that while many children spend as much as six hours per day either in front of a TV or computer screen, in turn, the only spent about four minutes a day outside (walking to and from their bus stop, no doubt).

Yet, because we all live in the environment and rely on it for so many things as it relates to our own well-being, it’s vital that kids are taught about the importance of environmental education. Here are three reasons why.

It separates (environmental) facts from fiction. Did you know that over 45 million adults believe that our oceans is our main source for fresh water and that over 130 million of them believe that hydropower is the top energy source for those living within the United States? Some may not feel like it’s a big deal to be misinformed about this kind of information unless you’re competing on Jeopardy, but the fact is that it’s hard to expect tomorrow’s generation to be eco-friendly if they don’t have the proper information as it relates to how to keep the environment thriving.

It causes them to excel in several subjects. Several studies have cited that when a child regularly participates in environmental education, whether in class via various online courses, it not only (understandably) increases their scores in science, but also in reading, math and social studies. It also helps to develop critical thinking as well as basic life skills. Plus, being that the well-being of the environment has become one of the most prominent issues of the 21st Century, research has also revealed that environmental education plays a vital role in preparing many young people for their future career paths; many of which will deal directly with the environment whether it’s being a biologist or zoo keeper, a meteorologist or environmental consultant or the dozens upon dozens of jobs in between.

It’s better for their holistic health. With all of the information that has been coming out lately about the state of obesity within this country, especially as it relates to childhood obesity (roughly 16-33 percent of today’s youth are considered obese), this should be enough reason to want to mandate environmental education for children. By appreciating the outdoors (via studying about it and learning in it), children are able to take in fresh air, get Vitamin D from the sun, exercise, and that’s not all. Studies also support that increased outdoor time also is beneficial to their cognitive functioning and emotional well-being. Plus, it increases their own levels of self-discipline. All of which are foundational for a being a healthy and responsible adult.

Top 5 Reasons to Ditch Your Car and Take the Bus

Let’s be real. If there was a choice between driving our car and taking the bus, there aren’t too many of us that would choose the latter. That’s because, most times, when we think of riding public transportation, a lot of cons come to mind: We have to wait for the bus. It (usually) does not give us door-to-door service. We have to share the experience with other strangers. The list goes on.

But you know what? There is another side to this coin if you’re just willing to look at things from a broader point of view. Do yourself a favor and take out about 3-5 minutes of your day to read these five reasons why it can actually be a good thing to ditch your car and take the bus (at least a couple of times in your lifetime!).

It saves you money. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like gas prices are going to be going down any time soon, so why not spend $5 on a bus pass that, based on where you live, can earn you a day or a couple of days’ worth of travel both to school and work and back again? When you compare that to basically the one gallon of gas that you can get for the same amount that might be all of the reason you’ll ever need to take a bus ride or two.

It gives your car a break. Sure, cars are convenient, but the upkeep of them can also be pretty expensive. The more you drive your car, the more miles that are put on it. This equates to more wear and tear and eventually, one way or another, maintenance work that has to be done. In opting to take the bus, you give your car a bit of the “rest” that it needs. That means less mileage on your vehicle and less calls that you have to make to your mechanic.

It’s a good way to get in some exercise. Yes, you usually have to walk several blocks either to get to the bus stop or to get to your final destination after getting off of one, but walking doesn’t hurt a person; it only helps. If you’re not someone who makes the time to do a bit a cardio 2-3 times per week, riding the bus is a good way to get some in without even really noticing it.

It helps you to multitask. Say that you have a big school exam or business presentation to prepare for. Unless the notes are in audio form, you can’t study and drive your car at the same time. Riding the bus is a super-effective way to brush up on your material as you let someone else do the driving. (Look at it as having your own personal chauffeur for the day!).

It’s a fun way to sightsee. When we’re driving in our cars, oftentimes we’re so busy rushing to where we need to go, talking to the person in the car with us or holding a conversation on our cell phones that we don’t even get to take in the sights that are all around us. Whether it’s a New York bus rental, a Louisville, Kentucky bus rental or wherever it is that you currently reside, look at riding the bus as a way of treating yourself. Pack a couple of your favorite snacks, get a latte, hop on the bus and exhale while looking out of the window. It’s a relatively expensive way to sit back and take “it” all in.

Six Energy-Efficient Tips for the Home this Earth Day

With Earth Day approaching on April 22 and in an effort to be more green, why not also consider how your home’s energy is used and how to prevent it from being wasted. Follow these energy-saving tips from Sally Morse, Director of Creative Services for Hunter Douglas, the leading name in custom window fashions, to conserve your home’s resources and your pocketbook as well.

1. Go Green, Literally

Saving energy in your home isn’t entirely based on adjustments made in the home but also changing what is outside of it. To cut down on utility bills, get a green thumb and strategically update your landscaping. A natural andbeautiful addition, plant deciduous trees on the south and east sides of the houseand evergreen trees and shrubs on the north and west to provide shade and act as a windbreaker. Well-positioned landscaping can save up to 25 percent of your home’s energy a typical household uses for heating and cooling according to the world-renowned Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

2. Insulate Common Energy-Loss Areas

The fastest and most cost-effective way to reduce energy dollars is to seal air leaks. Find these energy vacuums by holding a lit incense stick on a breezy daynear doors, fixtures and windows. If the smoke travels toward the areas rather than vertically, you’ve found a leak. Once identified, simply seal holes by using caulk,spray foam or weather strips. Common leaks are attic entrances, droppedceilings, recessed lights, water and furnace flues, ducts, door frames, chimneys, outlets and switches and plumbing and utility fixtures. Also, be sure to remove air-conditioning units in the fall and winter or use an insulated jacket on the exterior as these appliances invite drafts.

3. Watch the Windows

Windows can account for up to 25 percent of utility bills by leaking heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. For a functional and fashionable addition to the home to help prevent this, opt for highly energy efficient Hunter Douglas Duette®Architella® honeycomb shades, which feature an insulating honeycomb-within-a-honeycomb design that traps air. Certain Duette Architella shades can reduce solar heat gain through windows by up to 80 percent in the summer and reduce heat loss through windows by up to 40 percent in winter. This spring, three new fabrics and one additional street-side color option have been introduced to the line. These include an opaque fabric option ideal for bedrooms and media rooms for Duette Architella Batiste Bamboo fabric, which is made with sustainable and recycled materials. In fact, 45 percent of the fabric is bamboo.

Another choice for conserving your home’s energy in style is Vignette® Tiered™ Architella® ModernRoman Shades. This innovative design has rear fabric air pockets that trap air and double the degree of insulation provided by traditional Vignette Tiered shades. The sound absorption rating is also among the highest of any Hunter Douglas product.

4. All-Star Accessories and Appliances

When purchasing items that consume energy – everything from light bulbs to appliances – look for the ENERGY STAR® label. This label ensures you are purchasing an item that will help save you money and help protect the environment.

5. Clean and Green

Being clean can go a long way when it comes to your home’s energy efficiency. By simply keeping certain appliances in the best working condition you can save on energy costs. Start by servicing and cleaning your gas or oil furnace at least once a year and change or clear out furnace filters once a month during the heating season. Wipe or replace filters on air conditioners monthly or as recommended and do the same with warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Also, clean the lint screen in the laundry dryer after every load to increase air circulation and help prevent fire hazards.

6. Adjust When Away and By Time of Day

Cut down on utility bills while you’re away by investing in a programmable thermostat that lets you set temperatures by time of day. To adjust the window coverings for optimal performance, Hunter Douglas makes a Solar Energy Sensor that mounts directly to the window pane to control motorized window fashions. It’s an easy way to conserve energy without your having to lift a finger. In “Summer” mode, the sensor will lower shades when the outside temperature is too hot to prevent heat from coming intothe room. In “Winter” mode, the sensor raises the shades at the appropriate timeto allow solar energy into the room for warmth and closes the shades automatically when the temperature outdoors drops, keeping the warm air inside.

Try these energy-efficiency tips to help save on utility bills while making your home more comfortable.

Hunter Douglas, Inc., headquartered in Pearl River, N.Y, is the leading manufacturer and marketer of custom window fashions in North America and a major manufacturer of architectural products. The company is a national sponsor of Habitat forHumanity, covering windows in every Habitat home built in the U.S. and Canada.

Easy Ways to Shrink your Carbon Footprint

With global warming a constant concern, and carbon emissions still being the main culprit for rising temperatures, reducing your carbon footprint has never been as important as it is right now. While simply driving less may be a great way to reduce the amount of carbon you consume, there are a number of other, less obvious ways that you can drop your carbon consumption.

Recycling Closet

Let’s face it: Everyone recycles these days. But is that enough? Instead of just going with the herd and tossing your plastic into a separate container, why not set up a small recycling center in one of your closets? Now, you can not only recycle your plastic, but your paper and glass as well. This helps ensure that as much of your used material as possible gets recycled back into production and stays out of a landfill.

Online Education

Going to school can be one of the best things you can do for yourself, but it certainly doesn’t help your carbon footprint. When you add up all the books, the gas spent driving back and forth to class and the facilities costs of those large lecture halls, it can wind up adding a ton of carbon to the atmosphere. Instead, consider going online to get your education. With online schools growing all the time, and many now offering advanced programs, like an online MBA program, this is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint while advancing yourself.

Unplug

Modern technology is now an indispensable fact of life, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to reduce how much energy those technological devices use. Even if you turn these devices off, many of them continue to draw a small amount of power while they are plugged in. This power may be tiny, but when you add up all the devices in your life it could wind up being a serious waste of energy. Take the extra time to unplug devices when you are done with them and help save the planet.

Use Cold Water

It takes quite a bit of energy to heat up the water in your house, and while no one can really advocate for cold showers, there are plenty of water uses where the temperature of the water doesn’t really matter. For things like washing your hands, rinsing dishes and doing laundry, cold water works just as well as warm and by choosing to use cold you wind up spending a lot less energy heating up your water.

Focus on Local Solutions

One of the largest contributors to our carbon problem is the transportation infrastructure that is required to move goods from their place of manufacture to your doorstep. To help alleviate this issue, try to purchase goods, like foods, that are local in origin. Not only does this provide a boost to your local economy, but it significantly reduces the amount of energy that is wasted in bringing the products to you.

In today’s world it is everyone’s job to reduce the impact that their life has on the planet. Not everyone can simply walk off into the wilderness and live a life off of the grid, but there are plenty of small steps that everyone can take. These steps may not seem like they have a large impact, but when extrapolated across the entire population, they could represent a serious reduction in the global carbon footprint.

*Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Five Ways to Conserve Water in Your Bathroom

Being eco-friendly is on everyone’s mind these days. From local recycling initiatives to corporations ‘going green’ it’s an issue that we all deal with. In addition to recycling your Coke cans and newspapers, there are also ways in which to conserve natures biggest resource; water. Your home’s bathroom uses a lot of water between the sink, toilet and bathtub/shower so it’s a great place to implement conservation methods. Here are five ways to do that.

1. Take showers – The most obvious water saving method is to take showers rather than baths. This not only conserves water but saves on utility cost as well by using less hot water. If you want, you can also switch your shower head to a low flowing one that allows less water to pump through.

2. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth – The dentist recommends that you brush your teeth twice a day. If you leave the faucet running while doing this, roughly two gallons of water per minute are wasted. Once you begin brushing, turn off the faucet and leave it off until you’re finished.

3. Cut down on your shower time – This is also an easy way to save water in your bathroom. Attempt to cut down your shower time from 15 minutes to 10 by shortening your routine.

4. Fix that leaky faucet – Did you know that one dripping faucet has the potential to waste over 100 gallons of water a year?. It may not seem like much of an issue with a leaky faucet dripping once per minute but it really adds up over time. Fixing faucets is also a simple do-it-yourself task that can be accomplished with a kit bought at any hardware store.

5. Invest in a toilet upgrade – Corporations as well as people have ‘green’ ideas as well and many outlets that sell bathroom fixtures are offering products like high efficiency toilets (HET). In fact, Kohler states that its line of HETs can save a family more than 16,000 gallons of water a year. That’s a huge difference.
The Web site eartheasy.com states that the bathroom uses roughly 75% of the home’s water. If water conservation is something that you’re interested in, it’s the ideal place to start and maintain. If we all work together on this issue we can conserve millions of gallons of water a year and conserve the planet’s most valuable natural resource.

About the Author

Happy Can is an Atlanta porta potti rental company that services the greater metro area including Alpharetta, Cummings, Marietta and other surrounding suburbs. If you’re looking to rent a portable toilet in Atlanta or a luxury portable restroom trailer in Marietta, we invite you to contact us. We’re proud to be your portable restroom resource for construction projects, festivals, concerts, races or other special events.

*Image: xedos4 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Polar Bears and Global Warming

You may have heard of a little polar bear named Siku (a name that means “sea ice”) who is currently living at the Scandinavian Wildlife Park in Denmark. This little cutie has been garnering international attention (including a recent appearance on The Today Show) as an ambassador for the plight of polar bears across the globe. His condition as a bear being raised in captivity (because his mother couldn’t produce the milk to feed him) highlights a concern that has been growing over the last couple of decades: the effects of global warming on our environment. And while this bear will live as long as forty years thanks to the efforts of biologists and a fabricated habitat, his brethren in the wild may not be so lucky.

It is estimated that the polar bear species has dwindled to about 25,000 worldwide, but the decline in their population is steady; and it is directly linked to global warming. Thanks to the many hydrocarbons (read: greenhouse gases) that are produced around the world as a byproduct of industry and transportation, the human race is creating a situation in which climate change is occurring, so that global temperatures are on the rise, extreme weather conditions are sweeping the planet, and ecosystems that were once in balance are now completely out of whack, providing a new set of challenges that many species may not survive.

Polar bears, in particular, seem to be one of the first groups to suffer from climate change, and it’s not hard to see why. This species depends on sea ice to live. Although these large mammals spend a good amount of time in the water, they rely on the sea ice to hunt seals (their main food source) and raise their young. But with warmer temperatures reaching the poles and extended summer seasons over the last several years, polar bears are facing a host of setbacks to their way of life that are proving detrimental.

The largest problem is food. A reduction in sea ice results in two drawbacks for the polar bear. First, there is less area on which to hunt, meaning fewer seals and more competition for food. Second, there is greater distance (across water) between ice floes. So not only are polar bears finding less food, in some cases they are swimming such great distances to find it that they tire and drown. And then there is the added problem of breeding. Without enough of the essential fats needed by female bears to breed, fewer cubs are being born and those that are may die off because their mothers aren’t healthy enough to produce the milk they need to survive (as in the case of Siku).

Luckily, there is a way to save the bears, and each and every person on the planet can do their part. By cutting down on the hydrocarbons we produce (mainly through vehicle usage) and seeking out consumer goods from companies that endorse conservation efforts (by utilizing cleaner, greener practices) we can all make a difference and slow the progression of climate change, or even turn it around. In truth, the alarming plight of the polar bears should be nothing so much as a wakeup call to all of us. If we don’t change, we stand to lose a lot more than just a single species.

Ways to Save Money and the Environment

Should you focus on saving the planet, or saving money? Turns out you can do both. From lowering your electric bill to saving on groceries, you can find plenty of ways to stretch your budget and be good to Mother Earth. Some approaches are simple; some are more involved, but every little bit helps. You can always start small and work your way up.

Lighten Up
Changing the light bulbs in your home offers one of the easiest ways to trim your energy bill. Switching from standard incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs can help reduce electrical consumption. They use 75% less electricity and produce 75% less heat, making your house just a bit cooler in the summer. A CFL bulb can also save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime. To save even more, turn off lights and other electrical devices when you’re not using them.

Adjust Your Thermostat
Set it a little higher in the summer and lower in the winter. In summer, set it at 78°. Every degree below 78 consumes 3% to 5% more energy. In winter, try dropping it to 68°. At night, you may be able to go down even further, as heat rises, and upstairs bedrooms can probably hold most of that residual heat until morning.

Water, Water, Everywhere
Water is another major expense that provides a lot of great opportunities to save money. You can start by ditching the bottled water. Instead, buy a reusable bottle with a built-in filter. You can get them for around $15, and they last a long time.

You can also save a good deal of money by switching to low-flow toilet bowls and showerheads. Fixing leaky faucets helps too. Installing water-saving fixtures, experts say, can save you around $100 a year in utility costs, and the planet benefits too.

You can reduce your water use outdoors as well. Try planting vegetation that doesn’t require a great deal of water to stay lush and healthy. You can easily find a list of such plants online. Installing a rain barrel can provide you with an ample supply of water to take care of your flowers and plants. Check with local government officials though, as some communities don’t allow you to capture rain water, while others impose restrictions on size and even the color of rain barrels. Increase the amount of landscaping to reduce lawn size. Less grass means less area to water and mow.

Cut the Motor from Your Mower
When it comes to cutting the grass, consider a non-motorized, hand-push lawn mower. Today’s light-weight models are much more agile and require far less maintenance than their powered counterparts. They don’t need gas or oil, and they produce no greenhouse gas emissions. They’re also a great source of exercise.

Car Pool
Car pooling saves you money on gas by spreading the cost of fuel among your passengers. If you alternate cars with fellow carpoolers, you’ll also reduce the wear-and-tear on your vehicle. It also makes sense to combine trips by running all of your errands at once.

Cleaners
It’s amazing how much you can clean with everyday household items like white vinegar, baking soda, borax, isopropyl alcohol, lemon, and cornstarch. Several websites offer tips on how to make cleaners using various combinations of these biodegradable ingredients.

All in the Family
Get the whole family involved in finding ways to save the planet and your budget. See who can come up with the best idea, and award a prize–something eco-friendly of course.

Sources: Energystar.gov, Patch.com, USNews.com, Worldwatch.org

About the Author

Check ‘n Go has been a leader in the installment loan, cash advance and online payday loan industry for over 15 years. Check ‘n Go is helping to build legitimacy and trust in the consumer lending industry through their work with the Consumer Financial Services Association.

How to Protect Rivers from Pollution

The supply of fresh water in the world is not what it once was. In fact, it could be considered a dwindling resource. Although 70% of our planet is covered in water, the majority is salt water, which cannot be consumed by humans (at least not those who want to stay hydrated). In fact, only 1% of the current water supply on our planet is drinkable, and considering the way that the human population has exploded in the last couple of centuries, it might not take long for us to use it up. Because of this, it is important that we make efforts to preserve the drinkable water that is present, and that means protecting rivers from the massive pollution that some people seem intent on spewing into the water supply. But how do we do it?

There are several ways to go about putting a stop to pollution, and the first one is education. Many people don’t realize the massive negative impact that manufacturing and big business have had (and continue to have) on the environment. When people understand how much pollution is seeping into our waterways and what it means for the continued existence of mankind, it could spur them to action. Of course, all you really have to impress on people is just how much a bottle of water will cost once we start having to desalinate ocean water. That ought to get them moving.

And with education comes a chance for reform, which is to say, a large group of people speaking with one voice has the power to change policy (of the governmental variety). The road to stopping pollution hinges on higher standards regarding environmental protection. In short, it means stricter government regulations on levels of pollutants and toxic waste that are the byproducts of many manufacturing operations. But it’s not only manufacturing at the root of this growing problem.

Farming also plays a huge role in the pollution of rivers. Since most farming operations rely on water to grow their crops, it is only reasonable for them to set up shop near a source of fresh water (rivers, lakes, and so on) rather than having to transport it. This means that chemical fertilizers used to grow crops and toxic pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides used to keep bugs away are seeping into the soil and making their way to the water supply. And these chemicals not only get into nearby rivers, which may eventually wash them away; they also trickle down into the groundwater where they will remain for years, slowly releasing into the soil and of course, other water sources. Then there are mining operations to worry about, along with just about every other industry that uses the power of water to run their factories.

These are the concerns that keep you up at night, wondering if the world you’re leaving to your children will even be able to support life. However, you can make a difference every day. By opting for organics, eschewing mass-manufactured goods, and steering clear of metals whenever possible, you are using your consumer dollars to state your preference. But you can do more; write to your congressmen (and women) and representatives to demand stricter environmental protections, especially in the area of river conservation, and urge friends and neighbors to do the same. One small voice may get lost in the crowd, but politicians simply can’t afford to ignore the united voice of their constituency.