Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

It might sound crazy what I’m about to say, but here it is: November 2015 may be the most important and influential time to urge world leaders to take climate action. Why you may ask? In less than a month, COP21, the UN Climate Negotiation conference, is going down. On November 30th, world leaders will meet in Paris to discuss the future of our planet, the future for our kids and grandkids, and the future of our homes, cities, oceans and forests.

To help demand a positive change, build a powerful climate movement, and influence our world leaders, Oroeco has partnered with 24 Hours of Reality. Together, we are joining celebrities, musicians and world leaders, along with people all over to world to raise our collective voice and inspire people to create meaningful change.

This weekend (November 13-14), 24 Hours of Reality is hosting and live-streaming concerts, presentations, and watch parties all over the world to raise awareness about the Paris conference and climate change. There will be segments in Cape Town, Rio de Janeiro, Miami, Calgary, Sydney, Beijing and New Delhi featuring amazing speakers and artists like Pharrell Williams, Duran Duran, Elton John, Hozier and more.

Want to know how you can join in this global party and make a positive difference on the climate? It would sure make us and Pharrell “happy” if you joined Oroeco to take the climate pledge on 24 Hours of Reality, tune in to watch and be inspired by the live-streaming events around the world, and continue to spread the word about these events.

Now is the time for the world to come together and demand a meaningful agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This weekend, your actions can help to protect the planet, urge leaders to take action, and have humanity harmonize all at once.”

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water wise yard drip irrigation

Drip irrigation saves water and reduces runoff

As climate change threatens to make both energy and water resources increasingly scarce, it’s important to find ways to reduce water usage and thus reduce our energy needs — making the drop to watt connection. According to research, over 12 percent of all US energy consumption is directly related to water use. There are dozens of easy green ways to commit to reducing both energy and water in your yard and garden.

Committing to a greener land-scaping plan is one of the ways we can make a big difference in our water-energy use. An average lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water a year (not including rainfall). Taking steps to redesign your yard to include more native, drought-resistant plants, instead of (or in addition to) grass, is a wonderful way to reduce your water usage and keep your landscape beautiful. Native plants adapted to your region’s climate and soil require much less upkeep, are resistant to pests and diseases, and can help with erosion. Building a yard of native plants can help reduce pesticides and fertilizers, leading to a healthier ecosystem for other plants and animals too.

water wise yard

A water-wise yard can include a variety of plants and features.

Not ready to redesign the landscape just yet? There are still plenty of ways you can ensure your garden makes the most of its water. When possible, nuture old growth. Maintain those plants and trees already rooted in your yard to reduce the resources, nutrients, and water to needed to establish new vegetation. When choosing new items, focus on trees and shrubs when possible. Bigger plants can absorb more rainfall, reduce runoff, and absorb larger amounts of carbon dioxide (bonus: your trees can discourage your nosy neighbors from peeking in). Reduce runoff and erosion by adding compost and mulch to your soil. Compost will enrich your soil for healthier, happier plants, and work as a carbon sink for your yard.

Changing up your watering techniques can be instrumental in saving water too. When possible, it’s better to do the work of watering yourself. It’s much more efficient to manually water your plants with a garden hose or watering can; take a happy, meditative gardening break to give your little greens some water. The EPA estimates that you generally use 33% less water doing it yourself, rather than through an irrigation system. If manual watering is too impractical for your schedule and you have the spare funds, use an automatic irrigation system, specifically a drip irrigation or a water-efficient spray head, which are the most effective in getting water straight to the roots. The final tip: hopefully you’re an early bird, because the best time to water your plants is in the morning. It’s the coolest time of day, best for optimal absorption and decreased evaporation. Be mindful of the changing seasons, changing your watering routine as rainfall, heat and humidity change throughout the year.

The tips above will have you well on your way to a water-wise yard, and the great resources below can help you build a flourishing backyard ecosystem.

drip irrigation image from Flickr Creative Commons; xeriscape yard image from EPA

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A sneak peak at Oroeco's spiffy new Dashboard, which automatically tracks your personal climate impacts, compares you with your friends, and gives you personalized tips for saving carbon and money.

A sneak peak at Oroeco’s spiffy new Dashboard, which automatically tracks your personal climate impacts, compares you with your friends, gives customized tips for saving carbon and money, and rewards you and your friends for taking action.

Earth Day 2014 is upon us! We’re marking the auspicious occasion with the launch of Oroeco BETA, the world’s first service that automatically tracks your impacts on climate change, then rewards you and all your friends for taking actions that lead to a happier, healthier planet. The journey has really just begun. Oroeco’s team, advisors and intrepid beta testers have put in long hours to get us where we are now, but Oroeco is still only scratching the surface of the transformative tool for sustainability we think it can be. We’ll always remain a work-in-progress, as we hope to be adding a LOT more functionality and improving your user experience for many years to come.

Whether or not Oroeco puts a dent in climate change really depends on you. We’re only as powerful as the number of you using us, the amount you decide to take meaningful action, and the friends you encourage to do the same. So go ahead, sign up to take us for a spin; then invite all your friends. If you don’t have one already, you’ll also have to create a (free) Mint.com account to get started, and our About page and FAQ will fill in some details about how and why we’re doing what we’re doing. We’d also love to hear your feedback about what you like, what you don’t, and what we should add next to make Oroeco as awesome as can be!

And if you dig Oroeco BETA, stay-tuned for our first awesome mobile app, launching soon(ish)! OK, we’ll get off our self-promotional soapbox now…

We’ve been a bit delinquent about blogging while diving neck-deep into Oroeco’s web app, but we’ll be reentering the blogosphere soon. We’re planning to delve deep into the nitty gritty scientific details of personal sustainability, but we could use your ideas for what you’d like to see us research and write about. So tell us, what burning climate conundrums keep you up at night? Paper or plastic? Trains, planes or automobiles? Cow-fart collectors? We are at your blogging disposal!

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Warmer but not wetter: NRDC predicts that a majority of US counties will face moderate to extreme water shortages, due to climate change and increased demand.

Warmer but not always wetter: NRDC predicts that a majority of US counties will face moderate to extreme water shortages by 2050, due to climate change and demand.

‘Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.’ This poetically plagiarized prose precedes an International Energy Agency (IEAreport. As the climate changes, so do our precipitation expectations, and the latest portrait drawn by the IEA makes those words look like a possible future photographic caption. Water demand is expected to double by 2035, according to the IEA. Around half of the projected 66 billion cubic meter increase will be swallowed by coal production. This is equivalent to the residential consumption of everyone in the US for three years. The United Nations estimates that 1.8 billion people will have to deal with severe water scarcity and two-thirds of the population will be living in ‘water-stressed conditions.’

Fortunately there is no guarantee of being stuck out at sea sans both paddles. Water awareness is a good first step, and you can simultaneously cut your carbon and water footprint, since water, agriculture and energy are so intertwined. We’ve mentioned before how becoming a weekday vegetarian can save you around 2 tons of carbon, there are also benefits for your water footprint. The average American diet uses around 1,000 gallons a person everyday. Choosing to eat less meat and dairy and (if you are eating meat) picking grass-fed over grain-fed can make a real difference. National Geographic estimates that a vegan consumes around 600 fewer gallons of water than the average American. Then there’s all the embodied water in the energy you consume and the products you buy, many of which come from water stressed regions of the world. So as you buy less stuff and make your home a model of energy efficiency you’ll also be working water wonders for the people and ecosystems that need it most.

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Dirt cheap solar panel prices and government rebates mean home solar systems can now pay for themselves in a few years (and continue to save you bundles of $ after that). Here’s a graph of solar savings for a typical home in Los Angeles, CA (green means you’re saving money beyond your initial investment).

Once upon a time home solar PV systems were only the playthings of off-the-grid hippies and Hollywood celebrities. But now a dramatic drop in the price of solar has made it a sound investment for nearly all of us (as well as a major win for the environment). This is thanks to a cornucopia of national and local installation incentives, as well as improvements in PV technology, and competition from a massive oversupply from China.

If you live in a sunny part of the U.S., a typical home solar installation will now pay for itself in less than 10 years. Sites like find-solar.org can calculate how quickly solar will payback for you based on your average monthly electricity bill, local incentives, and the amount of sunshine your home receives each year. There are also now a number of companies (like 1BOGReal Goods, Brightstar, and CSS) that will install solar systems for free, provided you sign a contract to purchase power for a fixed period of time (with electricity prices that are still typically cheaper than what you get charged by your utility). It’s also worth checking out crowdfunding platforms that finance solar in both the U.S. (Mosaic) and the developing world (SunFunder).

Of course it takes energy (and associated greenhouse gas emissions) to make solar panels, but with improvements in technology the energy and emissions generally get paid back in carbon-free electricity production in less than 4 years, and future efficiency improvements could decrease this payback period to about a year. So, although the current low solar prices are hard on manufactures, the future for solar has never looked brighter for both the planet and your pocketbook!

Join the community of Climate Heroes: click here to join our newsletter!

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