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sunrise in Mendoza, Argentina

sunrise in Mendoza, Argentina

We sat around a table tasting several varieties of Malbec wine, watching the magnificent sunset colors of orange, pink, red and yellow dip behind the snow capped Andes Mountains. Surrounding us were hundreds of miles of Malbec vineyards within Uco Valley of Mendoza, Argentina, and it was absolutely gorgeous. At the time, it did not cross my mind that this land and climate might not look like this forever, and that the delicious local wine might not be available in the future. I had little idea of the disastrous effects that climate change could have on this beautiful region.

Wine production in Argentina is a crucial part of the country’s vibrant culture, historical development, and economic success. Argentina’s western region, Mendoza, is extremely influential in Argentina’s domestic and international wine success. With more than 1,500 wineries in the region, Mendoza’s Malbec wine produces seventy-five percent of all Argentine wines, and represents eighty-five percent of all Malbec vineyards worldwide.

Mendoza’s terroir, or their unique climate and geography, allows agriculturalists to produce grapes (and therefore wines) unlike any other region in the world. Mendoza’s high altitude, arid climate, lack of rainfall, nutritious soil, and differences in day and night temperature allow Malbec grapes to thrive. But, the increasing impacts of climate change already have affected and are expected to continue to affect Mendoza terroir, the Malbec grape, Mendoza’s wine industry, and, potentially, the Argentine economy. The Mendoza region has already seen increasing temperatures, melting glaciers in the Andes Mountains, changing precipitation patterns, decreasing water availability and unpredictable storms.

Most Argentine wineries, as well as worldwide consumers assume that Mendoza will be able to produce its wines indefinitely. But this is not the case if wineries do not learn to protect their region’s climate and agriculture. It is not the case if we do not take the basic steps to minimize our global footprint.

When managed well, wineries can actually help to sustain their climate and continue to produce delectable wine by minimizing their carbon footprint with practices like implementing irrigation techniques that conserve water, instituting composting processes, building recycling systems, or by choosing organic or biodynamic production methods. More importantly, as global citizens WE can take steps to protect this region and its unique agriculture. We have the responsibility to protect this region so that future generations can see its beauty and taste its deliciousness just as we do now.

Here’s how you can help now!

  1. We can help spread knowledge and awareness of climate change and its affect on the Mendoza region and their delectable wines. Together we can catalyze the global environmental movement.
  2.  We can support Argentine wineries (among other businesses and their products) that are certified organic, Fair Trade, B Corporations, and have adopted some of the environmentally friendly agricultural techniques listed above.
  3. We can continue to lower our own global footprint by recycling, driving less, eating locally, and buying products that were produced in environmentally responsible ways. Oroeco’s web apps help you easily manage, understand and minimize your carbon footprint!

image from Flickr Creative Commons.

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maddie wienerAbout the Author: Maddie Weiner is a writer and activist based in San Francisco. She is a recent Brown graduate with studies in International Development, Environmental Studies, Social Entrepreneurship and Spanish.

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If you want to reduce your impacts on climate change (which is of course why you’re here), you’ve got two options: 1) reduce your carbon footprint by changing your lifestyle choices, and/or 2) purchase carbon offsets that reduce carbon elsewhere by funding climate-friendly projects, like clean energy and forest preservation. If you want to fully eliminate your carbon footprint and live a carbon neutral life, offsets need to be part of the equation. Offsets give the buyer “carbon credits” for emissions in exchange for reduced emissions elsewhere. For example, we work with Impact Carbon, an award-winning non-profit that funds clean cookstove technology in Africa. Their projects save wood and fuel, and offers a host of social benefits, too. By buying offsets through Impact Carbon, the carbon savings of improved cookstove technology offset your personal impacts. 

The average American is responsible for about 19 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (“CO2e”) pollution each year, and the average European pollutes around 8 tons of CO2e per year. Frequent fliers and drivers can have a carbon footprint that’s several times higher. To stop climate change we need all carbon pollution to drop to zero as quickly as possible, including our personal pollution. There isn’t yet a global tax or price on carbon, so the responsibility for a cleaner climate rests with all of us as individuals to reduce what we’re willing to with cleaner lifestyle choices, then offset the rest.

But how do you know how much to offset? It’s said “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and most of us don’t currently measure our climate impact. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to track your climate impacts with our fun (and FREE!) software at Oroeco. Once you answer some questions about your lifestyle you can visualize the carbon footprint of every aspect of your life, including diet, shopping and transportation. Then you can act to reduce your impacts with our personalized tips for saving carbon and money. And, if you’re ready to up your climate-savvy kudos, you can achieve personal carbon neutrality and Climate Champion status by subscribing to offsets.

Not all offsets are created equal. There are definitely some bad projects out there. It’s important to only purchase offsets that are verified as legitimate, and, ideally, your offsets should have positive impacts on people and the planet beyond carbon reductions. Oroeco partners with the award-winning non-profit Impact Carbon, which works with clean cookstove projects in Africa, where the CO2e savings comes from efficiency improvements that decrease demand for fuel and reduce deforestation rates. The social and environmental benefits from these Gold Standard certified offsets also go far beyond climate: women and children breathe cleaner air while cooking at home, money is saved on charcoal, less time spent collecting wood means more time for work and school, and healthier forests improve water quality and biodiversity.

Ready to take the plunge into a fully carbon neutral life? Here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign up for Oroeco here (if you haven’t already): Answer a few questions to calculate your climate impacts and get access to our personalized tips for reducing your impact.
  2. Subscribe to Offsets: Once you’re logged into Oroeco, head to our Offsets page, and use the slider bar to decide how much of your monthly carbon footprint you want to offset.
  3. Be a Climate Hero: Your Climate Hero status will improve as you track, reduce and offset your climate impacts each month. You can also invite your friends and family to Oroeco to share, compare and collaborate. The more friends you invite to fight climate change with Oroeco the more chances you get to win cash and great prizes. It’s our way of saying thanks for helping grow our community of Climate Champions!

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andrea head shot circleAbout the Author: Andrea Bertoli helps to spread awareness of personal climate impacts via social media, blogging, advertising and community outreach for Oroeco.

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Climate-Saving Resolutions Time to ring in the New Year with resolutions to be healthier and happier humans. We here at Oroeco can’t help you get to the gym or eat less chocolate (which we consume in copious quantities). But we DO have a few climate-saving resolutions that make it easy to save money AND save the planet this year, leading to health and happiness all around!

Did you know the average household can save over $1,000 each year while reducing climate impacts by 20%? Here are 10 easy-to-implement climate-saving resolutions that cost little to put into action but can make a big difference for the world, your wallet and your waistline. Ready to awaken your inner climate champion? Take any of the actions below and you’re on your way to a better year already!

  1. Kill the vampires: This tip is perhaps the easiest of them all and doesn’t require anything beyond a little brain power: simply unplug your electronics when not in use, or turn them fully off with a powerstrip. Most electronics suck “vampire power” — which means they use energy even when turned off! Unplugging appliances when they’re not in use is the best way to slay these vampires. Some, like the oven, might be impossible to unplug, but others, like TVs, DVRs, stereos and wireless routers should be accessible and easy to unplug or switch off with a powerstrip.
  2. BYO-Everything: Carrying a silverware set, a reusable/washable napkin, a cup and even a small container with you to parties, to the office and elsewhere might seem a little daunting at first, but it has plenty of rewards. Cutting out the need for plastic and paper supplies goes a long way to reducing your footprint and virtually eliminating your use of styrofoam and plastic to-go containers. Bring your own takeout container to restaurants to save even more.
  3. Reduce your food waste: Here’s another freebie tip: by simply reducing your food waste you can eliminate about 2,200 pounds of CO2 each year and make a ton of other impacts! All the energy used to grow, transport and chill that wasted food can be saved each time you make conscious purchasing decisions. Here’s how to reduce your food waste: plan your meals ahead to avoid overbuying, serve smaller portions (which is also good for your waistline), freeze foods if you can’t eat them soon enough, and turn less-than-perfect veggies into soups or pasta sauces.
  4. Choose transportation wisely: Bike, walk or take public transport whenever possible. Or, choose a rideshare program to get you where you need to go without having to own a car. You can save up to $10,000 each year if your forgo four wheels to support cleaner transportation!
  5. Try Meatless Monday (or every day): Reducing the amount of meat and dairy in your diet can make a huge difference in your daily carbon footprint, even more so than choosing all local and organic foods. Eating less meat saves money and improves your health at the same time!
  6. Make your home brighter with energy efficient bulbs: LEDs are super energy efficient light bulbs and are a great investment for your home. The initial cost will be quickly offset from immediate energy savings. How much can they save you? A typical 60 watt incandescent can be replaced with a 6 watt LED! That’s a huge decrease in energy usage, and with LEDs now costing less than $5 per bulb they pay for themselves in energy savings very quickly!
  7. Reduce your water use: Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators are easy to install and can reduce your water use immediately by half or more. This means less energy used to heat your shower and sink water, dropping your electricity bill and your water bill at the same time.
  8. Know your climate impacts: It’s said that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” but it’s easy to track the climate impacts of your spending and lifestyle choices with our fun (and FREE!) tool at Oroeco. You can improve your impacts with personalized tips, collaborate and compete with friends, win prizes, and engage your community to scale your personal actions into bigger change. Sign up here to start tracking your impacts and begin changing climate for the better this year.
  9. Clean up climate with carbon offsets: Supporting pollution reduction projects by purchasing carbon offsets is the only way to fully eliminate the climate impacts of your lifestyle. Unfortunately there’s not yet a global tax on carbon pollution, but you can start paying your carbon cost now to make a real difference for climate and communities. You can subscribe to monthly offsetting through Oroeco to make sure you’re treading on the climate as lightly as possible. Your offset purchases fund clean cookstove projects in Africa, supporting healthier forests and families through our partnership with Impact Carbon, and you can even gift offsets to your friends and family.
  10. Share your climate love! Each change we make as individuals has a positive impact, but we encourage you to amplify your impact by sharing these resolutions with friends and family. Perhaps the biggest change we need to make is to shift the culture around climate action, so that climate-friendly living is the new normal. The only way that’s going to happen is if we talk about climate with everyone we respect and care about. Let your friends and family know why you’re passionate about climate, and how you can support each other to change climate for the better this year. We’ve built Oroeco to make these conversations a bit easier, and we’re on Facebook and Twitter, so you can share the climate love with us there too!

Got some other climate resolutions for the New Year? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. Hope your year is off to a grand beginning, and sign up here for even more tips to change climate for the better in 2015!

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

andrea head shot circleAbout the Author: Andrea Bertoli helps to spread awareness of personal climate impacts via social media, blogging, advertising and community outreach for Oroeco.

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Looking for a gift that helps both people and the planet?

Impact Carbon provides offsets that reduce climate impacts and serve social justice causes.

Impact Carbon provides offsets that reduce climate impacts and serve social justice causes.

Oroeco has you covered with a chance to help some of the poorest families in Africa while simultaneously helping your friends and family fight climate change!

Oroeco has partnered with Impact Carbon to offer matching gifts of carbon offsets that support clean cookstoves in East Africa. Traditionally, cookstoves use a significant amount of wood for fuel, creating localized environmental degradation and putting women and children in unhealthy and dangerous situations from smoke and wood gathering. Clean cookstove technology means less fuel, less smoke, less exposure to violence, more time for education and livelihoods, healthier families, and a healthier climate for all of us. To learn about what kind of impact these stoves can really have, read more here!

Here’s How to Give:

  1. Send an email to gifts@oroeco.com with the NAME and EMAIL address for each person you’d like give the gift of one month of FREE carbon offsets to support clean cookstoves. Make sure to include the name of the giver (that’s YOU!), along with any special instructions about when you’d like the gift to be emailed (like if you want it to arrive on a holiday or a birthday). We’ll even let you add your own name to the list to give this gift to yourself as our way of saying thanks!
  2. We will send all your gift recipients a personalized email with information and instructions about how to redeem their gift. They’ll need to create a FREE Oroeco account (if they don’t have one already), then go to oroeco.com/offset to subscribe to the clean cookstove offsets.
  3. If you’d like to further personalize your gifts, and increase the chances that all your gifts are received and used, you can download this gift certificate to print and/or email to your loved ones at your leisure.

Thanks for supporting Oroeco, Impact Carbon, and families throughout East Africa, and happy holidays to you and yours from Team Oroeco.

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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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Can gifts be green beyond the wrapping?

‘Tis the season to buy copious quantities of glorious gifts (many of which will promptly land in a closet or Goodwill donation bin). But before you pepper spray yourself to the front of the shopping frenzy, what’s the best way to make both your loved ones and the planet feel warm and squishy inside?

There are a plethora of products marketing themselves as green, as well as sites with green shopping tips for everyone on your list, but even green(er) stuff still generally takes lots more stuff to make it. In theory, a well-picked present could make the recipient’s life greener, particularly if it’s something that saves water or energy. For the gizmo geeks in your life, energy-saving power strips, LED lights and watt meters can make spiffy little bundles of negawatts.

If you don’t think a low-flow showerhead will put a twinkle in Grandma’s eye, you can always cut out the supply chain by employing your own crafty or culinary talents. Or you can just pretend you’re crafty and buy something off Etsy (though, as with food, often buying local doesn’t mean lower impact). Then there’s the vintage route, which cuts out all the production impacts from making new stuff (and rebirths treasures the world really shouldn’t live without, like Mr. T Water War).

But even lovingly crafted goodies take resources to concoct, and The Economist tells us a lot of our gifts aren’t really wanted (our homemade jam collection dates back to 1974!). So unless you gift wisely you’re wasting money, time and resources. Perhaps then a donation is the greenest gift you can give, with plenty of stupendous social and enviro orgs out there, like Kiva and NRDC. Heck, you could even buy offsets for Grandma’s carbon footprint from folks like TerraPass (for those of you who believe in such things).

Of course you’ll always have the Grinches, who insist you don’t gift them anything. And you’ll probably gift something anyway, stubborn treehugger that you are. We suggest a poem or interpretive dance performance. Or a large can of Defense Technology 56895 MK-9 Stream to keep the holiday cheer at bay.

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Roses are red, violets are blue(ish); our heart is green, and yours can be too(ish).

Want to win the undying affection of that special green someone? If gifts are your style, there are plenty of guides to V-Day green goodies, ranging from fair trade chocolate, to organic wine and sexy bamboo lingerie. Heck, there are even eco sex toy options (jolly green fun for you and/or your significant other)! Of course, as we’ve pointed out before, it takes stuff to make stuff, so the simple gifts that show you care through craft and prose are often are best at expressing your love for both your beau and the planet (call us cheesy, but it’s true).

Activities and services are generally greener than products too, so go ahead and book that massage and take that long walk on the beach (provided you don’t fly half way around the world to get there). If you absolutely must take that romantic getaway to Micronesia, consider at least calculating and offsetting your carbon sins. And try not to get so liquored up on mai tais that you inadvertently bring a bundle of joy into the world. Turns out babies are the least green thing of all (though we still think they’re cute… at least when they’re not screaming, releasing bodily fluids, and belching GHGs).

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