How We Can Help Save the Environment

When we take time to look at our environment, we can see the extent of its destruction and degradation. The result is that every year we experience different disasters and conditions affecting millions of people all over the world. I know it is not an easy thing to be able to effect significant change. But as a licensed engineer, an environment advocate and blogger, I can contribute something even in my own personal ways. Using the Internet, I have decided to create a blog to provide readers with valuable information on sustainable living, recycling, green transportation, eco-friendly materials, etc.

Information Dissemination

Whenever I get the chance to discuss environmental issues and problems with other people, I notice that many are aware of what is currently happening. During one of my conversations with a business owner who is selling electric smokers and propane smokers, I observed that individuals just need to have information to open their eyes to what is happening around them. Using my blog, my goal is to be able to provide informative and valuable content to help people get to know more about alternatives that are energy and environment friendly.

Impact on Communities

Our actions impact other people. This is something that everyone of us should acknowledge. When we do something that directly or indirectly damages the environment, for sure there are certain communities that would suffer. As such, I believe that we should be responsible and cautious of our actions. Being aware of what is happening around does not have to be too difficult. In my case, I try my best to find ways as to how I can be of help to our environment. In my house, I encourage my family members to recycle things instead of putting them straight into the garbage can. We can think of various ways to show that we care for the environment.

Relating My Advocacy to Work

Since I am working as an engineer, I get the chance to relate my advocacy even to work. Whenever we construct structures, I see to it that we always go for eco-friendly building materials. Using these materials is not just relatively cheaper but they are also environment friendly. Some may think that my actions do not have any bearing at all. But just imagine if many engineers like me would choose kinds of materials, it is definitely a big help.

Sharing My Passion and Knowledge

Nothing beats having that sense of fulfillment of being able to excel at work. In my years working as an engineer, I have encountered a lot of challenges along the way. But apart from my profession, I have also seen the need to share my knowledge to other people in such a manner that can be of help to communities. At first, my loved ones were quite surprised why I decided to create a blog. With my blog, I get to share my passion and knowledge to other people. In so many ways, I may directly or indirectly influence them to be aware of what is going on with our environment.

What is a Community?

What is community? Is it a geographic region? Is it defined by culture? Do economics play a role? Are all communities fundamentally alike?

These are the questions that go in and out of my head as I am approached with a new concept for a development. A lot of developers and people in the general public think that a development consists of asphalt, concrete, pipes, and wood. What they forget is that it’s the people that make it desirable, functional, and purposeful. So, what can we do as designers and planners to ensure a development is designed to serve the people and establish that great sense of community? That takes a little more thought.

Where do people establish relationships? At work, among families, and social events are the most common answers to the establishment of relationships. What if we had a greater power in selecting who we mingle with and how we interact? We do not necessarily choose our jobs by the people that work there, and we don’t always attend events to enjoy doing the things we love best with those we most enjoy. So how can we mold our interactions?

Before organized schedules and sixty minute commutes, a community simply lived. They hunted, gathered, built, learned, and worshiped among one another and created bonds as if a family. Everyone had to play a part for the sake of survival. We have not changed that much in the sense of survival – but our means have. We no longer have to hunt for the evening’s meal nor do we depend on our immediate neighbors to help with the construction of our house. But we do depend on that interaction and the desire to provide for our loved ones.

Thinking back to the most primitive of these dependencies – hunting, providing, and preparing even the simplest of a meal is a novelty shared by every culture and generation. It has been my passion to implement these practices into a modern day community. Imagine a community with a shared hunting property and common garden for the community to share in all aspects of the process. Imagine the simplicity of a central bunker where the hunt club members could store their firearms securely, share equipment that is not used often, and make group purchases on larger items to share to help one another clean, dress, and pack the meat. The club could own the best of the best and be shared responsibly by those that share that same interest. For example, there could be a collection of the best trail cameras that can be placed throughout the property to establish a clear inventory of the game.

I see great value in getting the most use out of the best resources. We continuously see products downgraded and downgraded so that every family can have amenity but is it really a smart move when it only lasts for a couple of years? We can finally bring back that pride we had as a country to manufacture quality products that are built to last – but they do come at a price.

The equipment needed to manage and keep a self-sufficient community thriving is an investment. Farm equipment is essential – as well as hunting equipment. But, if the community owned a few lawn tractors and a variety of firearms and bows could serve a large group of people, if organized properly.

Since my passion lies more within the great outdoors – just imagine having a fully equipped reload station with an endless variety of shells and loads. The prep for hunting season would be so much more efficient. Having the most of the best game trail cameras scattered all throughout is an advantage that not many hunters get to have. Imagine the research you could put into well-planned, organized, and custom hunt for the hunters’ specialties. I have seen where hunt clubs and less formal groups of hunters have strategized and optimized the art of hunting. Groups have been able to plant plots of crops for different seasons and animals. Then, they were able to scout out the variety of animals that they had and determine how many needed to be reserved to later years and determine which to keep for maintaining and enhancing the herd. Interestingly, not everyone involved in this prep work hunted for the kill – they just enjoyed the camaraderie and sharing of their skills.

All of this coordination, planning, and preparation is a skill that cannot be taught just in passing. This type of experience is something that is a lifetime skill set that will appreciated for generations to come.

Create A Sustainable Community Through Peri-Urban Agriculture

The definition of urban farming is the process of growing and cultivating, and using or distributing food in, or around a populated area, such as a village, town, or a city.

This concept usually involves areas for planting that are diverse, as opposed to vast open fields, and can also involve animal husbandry, horticulture, beekeeping, aquaculture and agroforestry.

This process can also take the form of a certain breed of growers for the purpose of creating a sustainable community, such as in organic growing. The community itself takes on a certain characteristic, such as the organic character of the project.

One of the major motivations of creating such sustainable types of communities is the desire for more and better access to foods that are known to be of a certain quality, and to get a better ability to be supplied with them.

Many communities are formally and informally engaging in what is called Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture (UPA). This gets lots of people engaged in mini gardens that are used for personal use, as well as commercial use.

Farmer’s markets spring up as a means of distribution to consumers, who in turn, have the desire to acquire fresh produce.

This not only provides a need for freshly grown foods on a local basis, but it also creates jobs and inexpensive locally grown food that is available to a broader cross-section of the local population.

This type of attitude and opportunity is springing up in more and more urban settings, as well as the rural settings where most people would think dominates this concept. There are plenty of vacant areas of land in the urban settings too, that can be used for this purpose.

By growing fruits and vegetables in these urban areas, a new economic activity comes into being, and local markets serve as a means of distribution and storage for the produce.

One trend that is very interesting is that this trend of urban and community farming has brought more women into the equation, which is a positive, because studies show that productivity and organization is increased, the more that women are involved in the process.

Other advantages to locally grown and produced food, is that it does not have to be transported as far, as commercially produced food does, so the food is fresher and more nutritious. In addition, costs for transportation are mitigated, so the food is less expensive.

Using vacant urban lots for agriculture also takes away the use of many urban lots as dumping places. Planting vegetables in those regions also helps to purify the soil, as different kinds of chemicals and ground water won’t have the opportunity to accumulate.

A popular storage method of grown vegetables in these farmer’s markets is the use of mezzanine flooring, as the produce is normally sold to the public within days of it being harvested, thus it is better tasting and more nutritious when the produce is allowed to “breathe”.

Overall, urban farming has more positive things going for it than negative, and somebody just has to take the initiative, in order to get things going in this area.

How You Can Do Your Part to Protect Our Environment

The environment today faces a number of threats from different directions. There is rampant pollution, clear cutting, global warming, and the extinction of many different species. Every day that passes sees the planet grow a little more unlivable. It is high time to take a stand and correct this sorry state of affairs.

 

The problems facing the environment are so large that many people are reluctant to even start trying to solve them. They feel that there is nothing they or anyone can do, and so they do nothing and allow these problems to grow. However, there is reason to hope.

 

Governments around the world have been stepping up and implementing measures designed to curb environmental abuses. They cannot do it alone, however. Governments derive their power from the support of their people, and leaders all around the world need to see that their efforts to clean up the environment have that support. Call or email your congressmen today, and tell them that you stand behind their efforts to save the environment or, if they are not yet supporting such efforts, that you wish them to.

 

Remember that it is always easier to fix a big problem by breaking it down into small chunks. Get active in your community cleanup and recycling efforts. If they do not exist, attend town council meetings to help get them started. If you belong to a community social club, try spreading the word there. You never know what you can get started until you try. Hold brainstorming sessions with others, and see what ideas you can come up with.

 

You can also get involved at work. Talk to your supervisors, and help them to see the benefits of starting a workplace recycling program or paperless office policy. Many businesses, such as medical billing and coding, that have to keep massive amounts of records have software available to help the transition to paperless record keeping. In fact, if you look at a typical job description for that industry, you’ll see that fluency in electronic record keeping has become a basic requirement for certification and employment in the field

 

Of course, recycling has to begin at home. Even if your town does not yet have curbside recycling pickup, you should still be separating out your plastics, paper, glass, and cardboard from the rest of your trash. Place the recyclables in their own bins and then and bring them to your local recycling center yourself once every month or so. Install low-flow toilets, and use water-saving attachments on your faucets. Instead of buying fertilizer for your garden, start a compost pile, which will help you reduce your trash volume even further as well. Use only all-natural cleaning products so that dangerous chemicals do not end up on either the water or the soil.

 

As it turns out, you can do a lot to help save the environment all by yourself. You can make enormous differences in your community if only you are willing to make the effort. You can even help our world leaders do more on a global scale. Even small changes in small communities can make huge differences when they are all added together. Please, do your part and encourage your community to do its part. Future generations will be glad that you did.

The Environmental and Financial Benefits of Recycling Dentistry Materials

If it’s a plastic bag, we usually care about the environment enough to recycle it. If it’s an old vehicle, we likely care about the financial gain enough to scrap it. Either way, we are making a conscious decision to not discard of recyclable materials in a non-usable fashion.

The same should be the case in the dentistry field, but it’s not. Many dentists and other dental professionals have made it a habit to discard of dentistry materials. Surprisingly, this is often done without any knowledge as the recyclability and value of these materials often goes unknown.

How to Understand What Is Recyclable in a Dentist Office

It’s quite the dilemma. When you attend a dental hygiene school, chances are you won’t be very well informed on which materials are or aren’t recyclable. In fact, there’s no reason to even believe that the recyclability of various dentistry materials is of any importance within the course material of dental hygienist programs.

At the same time, there really are many different materials within a dentist office that are considered to be recyclable.

A very easy way to look at what’s recyclable is by first dividing the dentistry materials based on whether they are hazardous or not.

Some examples of hazardous dentistry materials include waste mercury, X-ray filters, film packets, and developers, and amalgam. As these materials are hazardous, there may be specific federal or state requirements for disposing of them. For example, amalgam cannot be put with hazardous waste, but rather needs to be disposed of through a pick-up or mail-off service.

Some examples of nonhazardous dentistry materials include fillings, crowns, bridges, grindings, and casting wastes.                 All of these can be sent off to a recycling service for metal extraction. Crown molding has a miniscule gold content with every casting. After the die cast is used, the gold within the mold is all that can be retrieved by the recycler.

Embedding Recycling Standards at Your Dental Office

So, you work at or run a dental office? If so, you likely know about the struggle of identifying what’s recyclable and how to go about recycling it. So, you may want to read up on how to be a green dental professional.

Regardless, the benefits of recycling are substantial. There are risks to carelessly disposing of hazardous materials. There are financial benefits to recycling anything that is recyclable. Plus, non-metal items may be recycled as well. As recycling is usually priced around the same as trash, you may as well do the world a favor and make the little bit of effort.

It’s really not that hard. A list of hazardous and nonhazardous materials can be made. A specification on what materials to put in recycling or trash can also be made. Within a few weeks, everything will become habitual.

Further, you may want to rethink the overview for dental hygienist training at your office. You can simply incorporate the importance of differentiating both hazardous and nonhazardous, and recyclable and non-recyclable. Getting the new staff member to understand the recycling process from the get-go will definitely make things a lot easier.

5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Urban Garden

So you’ve gotten green thumb and want to try your hand in gardening, but fear that the city life may stifle your plants? Or maybe you’re struggling with the garden you have going on now in your urban setting. We all know that plants need plenty of sunlight and sufficient room to grow, however ideal gardening conditions aren’t always available in an urban environment. With the right tips and tricks, you can get the most out of your garden, no matter where you live!

Here are 5 tips in getting the most out of your urban garden:

Don’t Drown Your Plants

Over-water your plants is a no-no. Make sure that you thoroughly soak the entire container each time you water, but pour away any extra water that fills the saucer underneath the container. Forcing the plant sit in water encourages root rot. Since the signs of rot include wilting, many people think that the plant needs more water, which does even more damage. If you’re not sure whether the wilting is from too much or too little water, gently pull the plant up out of the container. If the roots are brown and gross and slimy, it’s root rot. Water it less.

Grow your Plants in Containers

Since an urban garden may not have the luxury of actual soil and grass in the ground, containers can help. Even if you have yard space, containers can be an easier way to plant. This way plants can be moved if needed and still give you the option of a garden without the space!

Use Plastic Pots instead

Instead of the clay pots, use a plastic one. Plants in plastic dry out less quickly because the pots aren’t as leaky as clay ones. 5 centimeters of mulch on top of the soul in your plastic container will reduce water evaporation from the soil.

Timing is Important

Keep a waterproof watch or stopwatch close by your planting section to show how much time is passed. This can help you keep track of watering times and sunlight times. Some plants need a certain amount of time in the sunlight in order for the plant to grow in optimal condition. With a stopwatch, you can give the plant the perfect times needed more efficiently and accurately.

Try Vertical!

If space is what is limiting your urban garden, try having a vertical garden. his type of garden yields the same amount of produce without taking up space, and it’s also easy to do. You can create one of these gardens using shelves, hanging baskets or trellises. Since most vegetables can be easily grown in containers, shelves allow you the benefit of growing different types of vegetables on each shelf. You can even position containers so that all plants receive enough sunlight. In addition, slatted shelving will allow for better drainage.

Ideas for Green Transportation – Still Getting Around But In An Environmentally Friendly Way

The world relies on gasoline and oil in order to get around, but the problem is that cars that run on both of these things cause a lot of pollution in the air. Everyone has the right to get around in any way that they can other than using a car that are just as effective. Green transportation is in these days, and here are some ideas that can be used to help people get to where they need to go, but without doing any kind of damage to the planet.

Consider Switching To a Work-At-Home Job

To help with the cost of a gallon of gasoline, a lot of major Fortune 500 companies and even small businesses are offering their employees the chance to do the same work from the comfort of their own homes. Working from home can mean that employees can do all the work they need to do without driving those long miles to and from work.

Further, companies are discovering that setting up their employees to work from home is very inexpensive, and people tend to work better from home because they can get coffee when they need to, they can take bathroom breaks, and best of all, they can stay in their pajamas and slippers! Companies are getting a lot more productivity out of their home employees, and more companies are starting to add work-from-home programs, making their employees very happy.

Try Switching To a Hybrid Car

Another way to look at green transportation is to consider looking at the environmentally friend cars that run on a combination of gas and electricity. The cars are equipped with factory rims just like every other car, and they are also offer the same kind of equipment upgrades that other cars are offered like replacement rims that are more stylish and made out of different material like aluminum. After all, just because the car also use an electric engine does not mean it has to be unattractive and stylish.

Also with these hybrid cars, people do have to use the gas station to fill up their car, but because of the electric engine, they only have to get gas about once a month, which is going to save people a lot of money. The electric engine gives the hybrid cars a smooth ride, with no noise, and it does not release pollution into the air like gas-powered ones do. People are able to save a lot of money owning one of these hybrid cars, and they are also doing something to keep the air ice and clean.

Ride a Bike As Much As Possible

A lot of cities are giving a lot more rights to people who ride bikes, and more bike lanes means that people are now able to take their bike around town to a lot more places than ever before. Though people may think they will be limited in what they could do with their bikes, they can always have a large basket attached to either the front or pulled in the back, which will open the bike up to be able to be used for many things like going to the grocery store or to the local retail store. Riding a bike will not only save people money on gas, but it will also help get them in really good shape. What could be better than riding a bike in the nice weather, and also get those errands done without having to take the car out of the garage?

Everything is green these days including transportation, and people can do their part to keep the Earth clean, and yet still find ways to get around their hometown and go to work, and best of all, they will save a lot of money every month because they will hardly go to the gas station at all.

Green Ways To Keep Your Home Smelling Fresh

Have some stinky trash? Need a way to get rid of those unpleasant bathroom or pet odors? Are those dirty clothes causing your bedroom to stink? There are a variety of smells and stenches that can permeate your home and assault your senses on a daily basis. These smells may even be so bad that you’re embarrassed to host your friends and family. Fortunately, there are a variety of “green” ways to keep your home smelling fresh and great.

One of the simplest solutions is to invest in a number of candles. Candles are a cheap and effective solution to help your home smell nice. They come in a huge variety of scents, so anyone can find a scent that they enjoy. Candles can range from neutral scents, meant to mask odors, to seasonal varieties like pumpkin spice which can help set the mood for a special occasion like a Thanksgiving dinner. Incense is also a great, inexpensive tool to create a fantastic smelling home.

If you would prefer a do-it-yourself method to freshen your home’s scent, you can use a number of common ingredients found in most kitchens. You can simply fill a small saucepan with water, add ingredients, and simmer for 15 minutes to fill your home with a pleasant scent. Common ingredients that work well include cinnamon sticks, vanilla extract, slices of lemons, limes, apples, or oranges, peppermint extract, ginger, rosemary, black peppercorn, cedar twigs, cranberries, coconut extract, tea, and thyme.

Another option is to try to treat specific areas of your home that may be the source of horrible smells. If your trash cans tend to stink, you can use scented biodegradable trash bags. If you have a garden, you can create a compost heap in it with the organic material that you would normally toss away. Instead of having it rot away in your kitchen trash can, you can allow it to decompose naturally outside and then use the compost as fertilizer in your garden!

If you want a quick fix or need to remove pet odors from carpet or furniture, there are a number of “natural” air freshener sprays available. These sprays may also help hide the stink from dirty laundry or bathroom odors, making them an invaluable tool for day to day use. Cleaning your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room frequently will often help make your home smell fresher.

Another fantastic way to keep your house smelling great is by using perfume or cologne. A “personal” scent can go a long way in making your home seem comfortable and fresh to any visitors you may have. There are a number of great colognes to help men keep both themselves and their homes smelling nice. Cologne’s made from “natural” ingredients are becoming more and more common, as shown by the emergence of natural cologne in major cologne producer lines. Guess, Ralph Lauren, Royall Spyce, and Burt’s Bees all produce colognes made with natural ingredients, and these colognes can really help a man to improve the scent and atmosphere of his home.

Going Green In Every Day Life

I focus on going green and helping the environment in my job so why wouldn’t I take my work home with me? Ever since I have worked in this field I have had an avid interest outside of work on recycling and being as green as I possibly can be.

I have a lot of friends who don’t and they find my interest in it a bit bizarre. Just last week I was round a friend’s house for dinner and I couldn’t believe how different our views were on the environment. She threw her milk carton in the bin that was full of food, put a glass wine bottle on the doorstep and said she’d be throwing it in the general waste when she got chance and her heating was on full blast – despite it being quite a balmy evening. When I suggested that we wore our jumpers to avoid putting the heating on she laughed and her face fell completely when I told her I have a separate bin for disposing of food. I’m not sure whether its because I have worked in this industry for a while or whether it’s just that I have a keen interest in the environment but I truly believe there are little things we can do everyday that can make a big difference.

Although my friend was shocked at some of our differences she did say she’d always meant to ‘go green’ but got so confused with the multiple rubbish bins and what went where, that she often just gave up. And I think this is a common problem for most people. It can be pretty daunting having to divide your rubbish up or use a water-butt in the garden. But little changes to lifestyle can definitely help the planet.

And here’s what I told my friend. My journey to sustainable living hasn’t been ground breaking – it’s been doing things little by little. Once I used to job search, print off multiple copies of my CV and have them binned by employers. Now if I were to job search I would use a site that specialises in free CV templates, create my CV online and email it to an employer. Once I would have left the lights on all day whilst I worked from home, now I leave them off all day and have replaced the bulbs to energy saving CFL bulbs.

There’s a number of things anyone can do – small things – that can lead to a greener way of living. Stop commuting to work in your car and instead opt for using a bike. If you work too far from home then offering a car share with colleagues or getting on public transport can help the environment. Every time you go to the supermarket stop using plastic bags and start using bags for life. Not only are plastic bags a threat to the environment but they also pose threats to marine life. Actually the BBC recently reported that the government intend to charge people 5p per plastic bag in the coming future – some supermarkets already do this but in the future it looks like most will charge. I think this is a good idea to decrease the number of plastic bags used in England but a ban would probably be more effective.

Other ways to save energy include turning off plug sockets at night, walking to run errands, paying bills online to avoid the need for paper and creating a compost bin. Using the local farmers market to source food is also a great way to support your local economy.

So, it may sound daunting at first, but ‘going green’ doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think and the benefits are worth it!

Convert your old trampoline into a chicken coop.


Turn your trampoline into a chicken coop!

While I was visiting a neighbor’s hobby farm the other day, picking up some seedlings for the new season, something caught my eye that I had not seen before. My neighbor had set up a little chicken coop in the corner of his yard. What I loved about it though, was that this chicken coop was actually the frame of his old trampoline that he had been a little creative with and repurposed! Talk about been green, recycling, and adding self sufficiency to your life!

I decided that I would tackle this project for my own little urban farm! I have been wanting to add some chickens for a while, so I thought this would be the perfect addition to the homestead.

The project actually requires very little in the way of materials. You can get fancy, or you can just stick with the basics. For my chicken coop I needed:

I was able to pick up a trampoline for free on Craigslist! I felt pretty thrifty, and the person was just glad to have the thing off his property. The trampoline mat itself was pretty battered, but it wasn’t going to be used for jumping anymore anyway.

I friend of mine down the street had a bundle of coop mesh sitting in her shed which I picked up for a couple of bucks (and the promise of farm fresh eggs in the future).

The project wasn’t very hard to set up. Once I got the trampoline frame back to my property, I positioned it where I wanted the coop to sit behind the house. The mesh was easy enough to wrap around the outside of the trampoline frame. All that is needed is to measure, cut and secure using wire (or zip straps, if you insist on using plastic).

One span between the legs of the frame was left unsecured along the top and bottom so that I could enter and exit the coop. I meshed over the top of the frame and used a spare tarp to create some shelter from the rain for the chickens.

I actually had a left-over rabbit hutch from back when I decided owning rabbits would be a good idea (it wasn’t), which I was able to use for the hide box and placed along the tarp covered end of the coop. I cut a couple of doors and added small hinges and locks so that I could reach in and collect eggs without actually entering the coop.

The entire thing took me 5 hours to piece together (minus the collection of materials).

The only thing left was to go get my chickens! An organic farmer across town had several for 5 dollars each, I ended up with 5 hens which are now settling in nicely.

I highly recommend getting some chickens if you’ve got the space. Not only am I provided with more eggs than I know what to do with, but I have left overs to give my family and friends. The chickens themselves are very low maintenance and add a little liveliness to the yard, which is welcome.

This little project turned out great. Who knew you could get so much use out of an old trampoline?

5 Eco-friendly Building Materials for Your Home

As a civic Engineer, I often get asked about eco-friendly building materials and how you can identify such. This post is about 5 of such materials and how you can use them to remodel your home into a ‘green’ home. Even though the ‘green’ movement is popular, you have to tread with caution (not every product that carries the ‘green’ badge qualifies to be such).

For instance, Brick veneer isn’t essentially the best eco-friendly building material for your home. Why? It provides poor insulation, requires more energy to produce and can be difficult to recycle.

You can tell an environmentally-friendly product by looking at how it was manufactured (did the material come from a sustainable source like timber?), its insulation properties (does it require less energy to heat and cool your home?), the durability and longevity as well as its recycling ability (a product that can be recycled is definitely environmentally-friendly).

Below is a list of eco-friendly building materials:

* Steel

If you really want to build a ‘green’ home, consider using steel walls. This gives your home an attractive, contemporary look. And steel can effortlessly be recycled or reused. Another advantage is that it is lightweight and cheaper to transport. A house with steel walls can be expected to last a couple of hundred years. The only caveat is: it takes a lot of energy to make steel but the benefits far outweigh the time used in producing it.

* Green roofs

Still in the sustainable living mode, you can cover your roof with a sheet of earth with a living lawn (like the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia) or other plants which can offer outstanding insulation and protection. If you want to stretch it further, you could even use your roof to grow food.

* Strawbale

When straw is bound with mud and compacted into blocks by wires, you have what we call Strawbale. Surprisingly, Strawbale is extremely durable and offers first-rate insulation. It is a sustainable natural material which can be covered and protected (with organic matter like leaves to prevent evaporation of moisture), after use but it takes a lot of energy to produce it (just like steel).

* Timber

Timber or wood is just like Strawbale (a renewable plant-based material that can lessen greenhouse gas emissions, because growing trees absorb CO2, which is then kept in the timber). Timber can be recycled, or even composted, after use. The main thing to look out for is whether your timber comes from an ecological source, such as a sustainable plantation, and not from old-growth forests or endangered tropical hardwoods.

* Bamboo

This attractive eco material can be used within the home and outside for decking, flooring, countertops and even wall panels. It can be grown without fertilizers, pesticides or irrigation and is also one of the fastest growing plants on Earth, meaning it’s a highly renewable resource

Aside building your house with environmentally-friendly materials, you can buy energy-efficient appliances for your bedroom and kitchen. Several green mattresses exist in the market these days. You can avail yourself of these options and enjoy your sleep every night without hiccups.

Before You Grow, Get Your Bookkeeping in Order

Making a business from your love of everything green

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may well be like many other readers who contact me to say that they’ve decided to throw in the towel of 9 to 5 and make their living from being green. Some decide to get involved in green transport schemes, others promoting healthier communities or sourcing and re-selling eco-friendly building materials. This is great news. Often, these people ask me for advice. The best advice I believe I can give is this: no matter what your business, no matter where your potential clients are, in this day and age, it’s essential that you don’t let yourself become a slave to anything that isn’t a route to profit.

Things like administration, bookkeeping and even marketing, although essential parts of running any business, can result in you take your eye off the ball of the most important elements of your business if they’re not in perspective. Making sure you have the filing done, that you have all your invoices produced on time and that you’re promoting your business is essential, but not at all costs. Often, when people start a new business in particular, they try to do absolutely everything themselves and can wind up losing out in the end.

Take bookkeeping as a prime example. There are several ways to deal with it and getting the balance right is essential for your business success. You may well have time to do it yourself, but if you don’t (and you probably shouldn’t), you need to be very confident that the time you spend doing your books isn’t time that you could be spending customer facing or making sales. Otherwise it truly is false economy.

Bookkeeping looks different in 2014

In the good old days, if you didn’t want to do your bookkeeping yourself, the only real alternative was to add someone to your payroll to do the job. Doing this meant that you suddenly became responsible for sick pay, holiday pay and providing a workplace that met with all the relevant Health and Safety requirements. Thankfully today, you have real, and cost effective options, and one of the most popular is outsourcing.

If you decide to outsource your bookkeeping, not only will you free yourself from the burden of having to do your bookkeeping yourself, but you’ll also free yourself from the need to worry about meeting deadlines laid out by the tax authorities. Companies like Virtual Business Source Ltd, which covers the whole of the UK, takes over the bookkeeping responsibilities of all different types of SME, enabling those business owners to get on what they do best, running their business.

Low cost and completely up to date

When you make the decision to work with a reputable outsourcing company you should know that your bookkeeping is in safe hands. You don’t even need to meet your bookkeeper if you’d prefer not to. Most of these types of bookkeeper work remotely, quite often in a low cost part of the country, thus saving costs that they can pass on to you, the end user. All you need to do is scan or post your bookkeeping documents, then sit back and let them do the rest. They will stay up to date with what technology will do the job best of all, and they’ll make sure that they’re completely up to date with current methods and obligations from an accounting point of view.

You choose the frequency

Depending on the number of transactions you have each week or each month, you will be able to determine the frequency with which you need to get your bookkeeping done. It may be that you require a monthly, a quarterly or simply an annual service. Either way, you get what you need, when you need it, and you only pay for what you require.

Access 24/7

Because companies like Virtual Business Source work with technology that’s ‘in the cloud’ you have access to your accounts 24/7, which means that even when your bookkeeper’s sleeping you can access your accounts.

Now that’s a real bonus!