Sunday, October 2, 2011

Commuters can offset their carbon footprint –- Is there any possible way to reduce carbon emissions on a global scale?

Commuters can offset their carbon footprint and these statistics show that doing so can have a huge impact to putting a stop to climate change and global warming:

Transportation accounts for 22% of energy use worldwide and 27% of carbon emissions.

96% of the energy used for transportation in major energy-consuming countries comes from petroleum fuels, which are a main cause of global climate change.

Three fourths of transportation energy use originates from road vehicles, about two thirds is consumed by passenger mobility, and one-third is utilized by moving freight.

Light vehicles accounted for 63% of transportation energy consumption in 2005.

But aren’t big businesses, industries, and rich countries reliant on fossil fuels the bigger culprits?  What are governments doing so that countries and businesses reduce their carbon emissions? 

The Story of Cap and Trade

Cap and trade, also known as carbon trading or emissions trading, is one of the leading proposed solutions to the global climate crisis. 

Under cap and trade schemes, individual governments or intergovernmental bodies, like the United Nations, set a limit on greenhouse gas emissions allowed within a given time period — that’s the cap. 

If a company plans to pollute more than their allotted limit, they can buy permits from companies that haven’t used all of theirs — that’s the trade.

Check out this video by the host of the Internet film sensation “The Story of Stuff”, Annie Leonard, explaining cap and trade and revealing the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals.  See how carbon offsets work in a global scale.

What we can do

As the video points out, our global economy runs on burning fossils fuels such that just about everything releases carbon.  

We might think that although ordinary commuters can offset their carbon footprint or even better, reduce carbon emissions, there really isn’t that much we can do if the factories that make our stuff, the ships and trucks that carry it around the world, our cars, buildings, and appliances keep coming from carbon-intensive sources.

This is true. But as end-consumers, our money and the way we consume stuff fuels this kind of destructive economy. 

The money we all spend on supporting polluters by buying their products or investing in these businesses can, for example, be diverted to supporting clean and renewable energy sources.  

Planting trees, buying organic produce, recycling, taking public transportation, biking or walking, and even lobbying for more efficient and cleaner public transportation are just a few examples of how commuters can offset their carbon footprint.

To know more about the story of how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health, check out Annie Leonard's book.

Transitioning to a clean energy world will not be easy but our collective efforts will go a long way in taking us there.  We can all be more involved by learning how our lifestyles affect the environment, changing our consumerist mindsets, and taking small steps to make it happen.  With the impact that transportation has in global warming, it is well worth remembering that commuters can offset their carbon footprint.

References: /transportation-energy-use-infographic/ capandtrade

Photo thanks to photos/mikaelmiettinen/

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Safe plastic drinking water bottles -- How much damage do plastic bottles do to our environment?

Safe plastic drinking water bottles:  reduce, reuse and recycle

Using safe plastic drinking water bottles is one way to help reduce the impact to the planet of consuming plastic.  “Reduce, reuse, recycle” still are the best ways to help the environment especially when you read these overwhelming facts about plastic bottles:

  • It takes 700 years for plastic bottles begin composting
  • Nearly 7x as much water is used to make and transport one kilogram of bottled water as is in the bottle

  • 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself
  • 80% of plastic bottles are not recycled. More than 60 million plastic water bottles end up in landfills or incinerators every day.

  • In 2006, Americans drank an average 167 bottles of water each for a total of 50 billion bottles (total spent $15 billion). Of that total, only 23% was recycled.
  • 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles. Currently, the amount of oil we use to produce water bottles each year (17 million barrels) could fuel over 1,000,000 cars for an entire year.

  • If you drink 2 Liters of tap water a day, it only costs you 50 cents per year to drink. Drinking the same amount, but bottled will cost you nearly 1000 times more.

The story of bottled water
When I was a kid, we would normally drink straight from tap.  We usually drank from glass and then suddenly, we find ourselves searching for safe plastic drinking water bottles.  

These days, a lot of us cannot imagine drinking tap water and I have often wondered what happened between then and now that made plastic bottled water a hit.  In this video, Annie Leonard provides some very interesting answers to our obsession to bottled water.

To know more about the story of bottled water and how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities, and our health, check out the book from the host of the Internet film sensation “The Story of Stuff”, Annie Leonard. 

How much plastic trash are you contributing to the pile of plastic garbage each day?  

How much do you spend buying plastic bottled water each week?

How much can you save by cutting on your bottled water purchase?

How can you help reduce the pile of plastic garbage that harm our environment and our society as well?

Reduce, reuse, recycle and start using safe plastic drinking water bottles.


Photo thanks to http:// www.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Homemade Window Cleaner --- What are the most effective, environmentally friendly cleaning products?

Homemade window cleaner --- What are the most effective, environmentally friendly cleaning products?

Our home is a place for rest and for sharing precious time with our loved ones.  It can be quite surprising to know that this home where we are supposed to be safe can also be one of the most toxic places due to products we use everyday. 

By using a lot of chemical products, our homes have literally become a toxic waste dump. The cleaning products we normally use at home contain harmful ingredients like:
  • Neurotoxins that poison the brain and nervous system
  • Carcinogens that cause or aggravate cancer
  • Teratogens that interfere with fetal development
  • Endocrine disrupters that interfere with our body’s hormonal and reproductive system
  • Mutagens, that are also typically carcinogens, and cause permanent genetic change in a cell

These chemicals also make their way to the environment when they are flushed down the toilet, poured down on sinks, sprayed into the air, or thrown into the trash. They cause harm to plant and animal life and contribute to pollution of groundwater, contamination of the soil, and depletion of the ozone layer.

Homemade or natural cleaning products can be used, instead, as an inexpensive, effective, and environmentally friendly way to keep our babies, pets, and loved ones safe, while also protecting the environment. If you are interested on how you can clean and be green, read on…

Homemade window cleaner and other homemade substitutes

A lot of the traditional home cleaning products are very effective, safe, and inexpensive. There are many resources in the Internet and in books where you will find homemade recipes to solve a lot of your household cleaning needs such as Papa’s homemade window cleaner recipe of white vinegar and water, wiped to windows using old newspapers.

Here is a list of common, green cleaning products that can be used alone or in combination for a wealth of effective and environmentally friendly household applications. 
  • Baking Soda - cleans, deodorizes, softens water, scours.
  • Lemon - one of the strongest food-acids, effective against most household bacteria.
  • Borax - (sodium borate) cleans, deodorizes, disinfects, softens water, cleans wallpaper, painted walls and floors.
  • White Vinegar - cuts grease, removes mildew, odors, some stains and wax build-up.
  • Cornstarch - can be used to clean windows, polish furniture, shampoo carpets and rugs.

Messy Bessy: I clean. I green. I educate.

Other homemade window cleaner solutions are available over the Internet and we can also buy available nontoxic and biodegradable cleaners sold commercially. 

A growing number of commercial non-toxic home cleaning products are also becoming available here in the Philippines, and my favorite has been Messy Bessy’s line of cleaning products.

Messy Bessy is a line of worry-free household cleaning products made with safe, non-toxic, all natural, biodegradable ingredients that are good for your health and for the planet. 

For example, their Squeaky Clean Window Cleaner is made only of natural ingredients like lemon essential oil, tea tree essential oil, distilled white vinegar (sugar cane, water), extra virgin coconut oil, olive oil, anti-oxidants, and water. 

Messy Bessy works closely with experts to ensure that all products remove dirt and kill bacteria without leaving toxic fumes and chemical residues. I myself use their products at home, and boy, do they clean!!! 

Their environmental responsibility goes beyond their products. They make sure that every step of the business is done with a “green mind” like choosing labor over machinery, recycling their waste, pricing the product line to encourage refills, and choosing sustainable packaging.

What’s more interesting about this business is that they do not only clean and green. The business was put up by Krie Lopez in November 2007 in order to educate, train, and employ young adults and the disadvantaged youth of Manila through development programs that the business funds. 

By using Messy Bessy products, I clean, I green, I educate!  

Start having your natural household cleaning kit by using the ingredients I mentioned earlier or checking out Messy Bessy products.  For cheaper, safer, and more nontoxic cleaning recipes, environmentalist Karen Logan's "Clean House Clean Planet" offers a lot of good recipes to help clean your home while keeping your loved ones and our environment safe.

By using natural cleaning products. we can all clean, green, and even educate! Doing good can all start through ways as simple and inexpensive as a homemade window cleaner.  

http://www.messybessy. com/index.html

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Types of Eco Tourism --- What things can you do to be a true ecotourist?

Types of eco tourism gone wrong
Boracay produces 7 to 10 tons of garbage each day…

Some 5 kilos of cigarette butts are collected from Boracay's White Beach everyday…

In the last 5 years, a dramatic rise in water levels was noted in Boracay and coasts are thinning…

Mount Data National Park used to be a 5,512 mossy forest. However, the mossy forest is now a mere 89 hectares…

Mount Pulag, the second highest peak in the Philippines (2,954 masl), one of the nation’s most critical watersheds and one of the most beautiful tourist sights, known even outside the country, is dying… 

Similar stories can be found in various natural attractions all over the world and since travel and tourism continue to rise especially in Asia, once pristine spots are now being milked for cash at the expense of the environment.

How can I be a responsible ecotourist?
As travelers, we all can do something to help lessen the negative impact of travel to the environment.  If you are an ecotourist or if you plan to be one, check out 10 of my favorite tips on what we can do to plan your trip responsibly and make responsible choices while on vacation:

1. Unplug before you leave, unplug while you are there: Turn off lights and unplug household appliances that can be left unplugged while you are away. Turn off all the lights and air conditioner/heater when you leave your room, and unplug unnecessary appliances.

2. Travel light: Pack only what you need, and don't bring things that will become waste. 

3. Avoid litter: Bring garbage bags and bring home whatever garbage you brought with you. Ask and learn about proper garbage disposal at your destination. 

4. Fly responsibly: Opt for more environmentally friendly transport such as trains, buses, and passenger boats. Plan your trip so that you minimize air travel, and choose, whenever possible, to stay longer in a destination instead of making many short trips.

5. Choose greener ways to get around: Utilize public transportation (bus, train, city car, etc.) and alternative modes of transportation (walking, bicycle, non-motorized vehicles, horse, camel) as much as possible. It's a more sustainable way to get around, and also a healthier and more enjoyable way to get to know the place you are visiting.

6. Portable water: As much as possible, bring your own portable water and reusable water bottle to avoid buying bottled water.

7. Save Water: Use the minimum amount of water needed for a shower/bath, don't let water run while shaving, brushing or washing, and check if the hotel has a linen reuse program - if so, reuse your towels and bed sheets by placing the card to indicate you don't wish to have them washed every day, if not, request hospitality staff not to change them every day.

8. Respect the environment: Never touch or harass animals. Always follow designated trails. Support conservation by paying entrance fees to parks and protected sites.

9. Buy local: Choose local lodges, use local buses, eat in local restaurants, shop in local markets. Never buy crafts or products made from protected or endangered animals.

10. Give back: Contribute to and participate in the community projects, and support those companies that are making positive impacts on the lives of local hosts. Like others, you'll find you enrich your travel experience when you help contribute to the well-being of the communities that you're visiting.

Where can I go?
In my last previous post on the different types of eco tourism, we said that ecotourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should follow these ecotourism principles:
  • Minimize impact.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.
  • Provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people.
  • Raise sensitivity to host countries' political, environmental, and social climate.

The International ecotourism Society (TIES) is the world's oldest and largest international ecotourism association that seeks to be the global source of knowledge and advocacy uniting communities, conservation, and sustainable travel. Its website provides an Ecotourism Explorer tool that will help you find different types of eco tourism sites, organizations, tour operators, and programs around the globe.

David Bach’s book ‘Go Green, Live Rich’ is also a rich source of references for green vacations and responsible travel.  Check out his book to know more about green vacations and how going green can also make you wealthy.  

If you are planning your next vacation, have fun while being responsible and explore the different types of eco tourism.


Photo thanks to bigberto/

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Examples of how going green saves you money – How can we all cut down and save some money?

Examples of how going green saves you money are all over the internet. It is no wonder, that these days, more and more people are finding ways to save money. When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, an astounding $50 trillion of wealth was erased globally. People lost their jobs and were driven to the streets to demand for justice and support. Even until now, the global economy has not been fixed and incomes, jobs, and credit are still in short supply.

Before it happened, a lot of people knew that the level of consumerism in the world has been at an all time high but a lot of the money spent never really existed.  People where spending at debt.  According to a website that offers services to erase debts:

  • 70% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
  • 85% of Americans have a true net worth value of less than 250$.
  • 62% of Americans say that money is their biggest problem.
  • 41% of Americans do not have an emergency fund.
  • 80% of marriages that end in divorce cite financial problems as the leading reason.
  • 60% of college students leave college with loans and credit card debt.
  • 96% of those 65 and over die broke.
  • The average American saves less than $0.02 of every $ earned.

Has the crisis hit you in any way?
If not, are you prepared to lose your job should another downturn happen?
Are you also currently in debt?
Do you have enough savings to support you through retirement?

Controlling spending and consumption is one of the greenest ways of sustaining our lives and also rescuing our planet. This is also one reason why examples of how going green saves you money has become a topic of interest. It is a win-win for both man, as we save money, sustain our lifestyles, and reduce the stress that comes with having too much unnecessary things that clutter our lives; and nature, as we employ more efficient ways of using our natural resources, slowing down on consuming limited resources, and putting a stop to all types of pollution that slowly kill the only planet we live in.

We can start generating a lot of savings by slowly changing how we purchase and consume some of our basic necessities like food, water, and clothing. Although this may entail some sacrifices, the benefits you will reap far outweigh the little changes you will make in your lifestyle.  Read on these examples of how going green saves you money and calculate how much savings you can generate by trying them. 


  • Eat less meat. Try cutting your meat consumption little by little. Aside from it being more expensive, meat is also one of the most resource-intensive food to produce.
  • Eat raw.  A lot of material exists about the health benefits of eating raw food. And because you consume less or no energy in preparing them, you save money as well. You (and the planet!) save a lot more when you buy fresh, locally produced food items.
  • Eat less junk. I know a lot of people who feast on junk food everyday. Imagine the savings you can generate (and litter you reduce) by simply skipping on your favorite junk and replacing it with healthier, cheaper options.


  • Break-a-bottle-a-day.  Billions of money are spent consuming bottled water. Imagine the savings you will generate if instead of buying 1 bottle a day, you buy a reusable water container made of glass, aluminum, or PET 5 plastic and refill that with clean, free water.  
  • Turn off the tap. Dripping faucets and leaks will cost you a lot.  Fix them as soon as possible to save water and money. Keeping the water flowing while brushing your teeth, for example, is a very costly (not to mention, insensitive) way of wasting a very precious resource.


  • Think before you buy.  Do you really need to buy another shirt or dress? Clothes have become one of the fastest moving items these days and as they become cheaper and cheaper, people are drawn to stuff their closets with clothes that are in trend but that they will usually just wear a few times. How much money will you save if you plan your shopping and become smarter with your clothing choices?

Here is a very interesting infographic that describes how an average American spends their money.

Using this as an example, list where you would normally spend your monthly paycheck and put average values or percentages in each of your spending categories. Doing this simple exercise will help you identify more opportunities where you can save a lot of money and at the same time go green.

You might think you only save very little by cutting your consumption or making smarter choices, but little things do add up and produce so much value for your pocket and benefits for the environment.

An old cheapskate saying goes: The surest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your wallet.  David Bach, a renowned motivational and financial speaker and founder of FinishRich Media, shows us how small daily savings from living green add up to a richer future in his book “Go Green, Live Rich: 50 Simple Ways to Save the Earth and Get Rich Trying”.

If you value true well-being and a secure future for yourself, your family, and the world we live in, start saving money while saving the planet at the same time through these examples of how going green saves you money

Photo thanks to meddygarnet/
Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth, Juliet B. Schor

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Commuters can offset their carbon footprint –- What actions would you support to reduce carbon emissions?

Commuters can offset their carbon footprint and through little actions, help stop catastrophes that have been claiming lives for the past few years. 

Do you see (or have you felt) the catastrophic effects of recent natural disasters?
Do you want to do something in order to help?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then read on to see what we can do to help by controlling excessive carbon emissions. If you answered ‘no’ then read about typhoon Ketsana or hurricane Katrina  or the tsunami in Japan and ask if you want that to happen to you and your family. If not, then read on. 

What's happening?

The volume of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere has been increasing at a tremendous scale greater than our forests', oceans', or soils' ability to capture it.  

Heat from the sun reflected from the earth's surface does not exactly escape into space. It bounces back into our atmosphere and the captured warmth actually makes our planet habitable.

Carbon dioxide is a good thing but too much of it is bad.  Because of how we live and how fast we consume our natural resources, we contribute to the production of too much carbon dioxide and the degradation of too many natural resources that are supposed to keep its volume under control. 

A lot of media has come out about the issue of climate change and global warming.  Experts and scientists concur that there is almost absolute certainty that the planet has a temperature caused by human actions.  

The hurricanes, droughts, floods, heat waves, etc., that have recently been claiming millions of lives are just some of its catastrophic manifestations.  Something has to be done now, and very rapidly, because scientists and experts believe that we might not have enough time to put things under control.

So what should we do?

There are many things we can do to help stop global warming.  Carbon offsetting is one of these ways. It is a way of doing good by reducing emissions from one activity in order to make up for emissions you can’t reduce or avoid from another. But it will only make sense if we use them for behaviors that we cannot avoid rather than as a substitute for changes we can easily make.   

Carbon offsetting can be a little complicated at first especially for regular folks like you and me. Doing research is very important since a lot of carbon offsets are of questionable value. We ordinary folks can, instead, simply choose to avoid or reduce our carbon emissions whenever possible. 

The way we move around is one of the biggest ways that we impact our planet (most of the time, in a negative way).  If you spend a large portion of your day moving from one location to another, this article may be able to give some suggestions on what we can do in order to avoid or reduce the carbon footprint we produce when commuting.

Tip 1: Calculating your carbon footprint is the first step to going green. 

Carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular, on climate change. It relates to the amount of carbon dioxide produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation, etc. that heat up the planet or cause global warming.

I took my first carbon footprint test last April and for someone who refuses to own a car (yes, that’s even if my employer already offered me one) and chooses to take public transportation to get to places, I was a bit shocked when I realized my carbon footprint is still high compared to world average.   

Knowing how our actions and lifestyle affects the environment enables us to take the necessary actions to reduce any negative impact we cause. There are more sophisticated tools to calculate exactly how much emission we produce and how it affects our environment but the internet is filled with a lot of free tools to get us started.

I do believe that commuters can offset their carbon footprint and we can start doing so with an awareness of how much impact we are actually producing.

Tip 2: Walking, running, and biking are healthy ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

If you’d ask me for a tip on how to reduce weight or stay healthy, walking or running is definitely one tip I will give. You only not do your health a favor, you also make the planet happy.

I also know someone who owns a folding bicycle so he could bike from his house to the train station, fold the bike and get into the train, and then bike again from the station to his office.  Fun! And definitely a good idea! Not only does he reduce his emissions, he also gets to save on daily travel expenses, while staying fit!

Tip 3:  Live or stay near your place of work / study or drive less

I remember seeing a documentary on urban planning and one of the smart strategies they discussed to improve people’s lives in the city is to "force" people to stay near where they would normally be in a day, so that they would not need to use transportation. This not only reduces traffic, but I think, it is certainly a very smart way of reducing stress produced by daily commute!

Instead of spending 2 hours in traffic (and contributing to global warming), why not live near where you work or study? Not only will you earn more time to rest or do more productive stuff, it can also help reduce traffic in the streets.

There are more ways on how commuters can offset their carbon footprint or simply reduce or avoid it.  These include carpooling, proper scheduling of trips in a day, proper car maintenance, and a whole lot more.  David Bach’s book offers easy, useful tips on how to find carbon offsets so go and check it out as well.

Governments and businesses do have responsibilities to the environment to put a cap on carbon emissions and to either offset or totally reduce the negative impacts of how society lives.  However, I believe that little, simple actions like knowing your carbon footprint, walking or biking, and driving less also add up to more sustainable ways of going green.  It is important to remember that commuters can offset their carbon footprint.

Photo thanks to http://www. photos/ricephotos/.