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How Trader Joe’s Will Save a Million Pounds of Plastic

Last year, Trader Joe’s officially announced that it would be making some major company-wide shifts?namely, to up its sustainability standards and reduce its plastic waste. While it all started as a response to a massive Greenpeace petition, Trader Joe’s is continuing to hold itself to a higher standard by scrutinizing all the wasteful, unsustainable facets of its grocery empire?and it seems to be working. When all is said and done, the company will have eliminated over one million pounds of wasteful single-use plastic from its stores.

Where’s all that plastic waste coming from?

Odds are, you’ve probably strolled through any supermarket and been frustrated by the amount of fresh food wrapped in plastic. From individually-wrapped cucumbers to plastic-wrapped styrofoam trays of apples, it’s like walking into an environmental nightmare scenario. There is so much unnecessary, un-recyclable plastic waste in our grocery system. And Trader Joe’s has placed itself on the front line.

Now that they’re keyed in on the problem, Trader Joe’s continues to strive to clean up their act.

In December, they informed customers that they would no longer be offering single-use plastic bags?one of the first nationwide grocery chains to do so. They’re also replacing their produce bags with compostable alternatives and limiting the amount of produce sold in plastic altogether. They are even going the extra?mile to remove the tiny bit of non-recyclable plastic and foil from their tea packaging.

It seems that no waste is too small to address, which is a sustainability outlook we can all get behind.

Curious to check out Trader Joe’s new sustainability principles? Here they are, straight from their press release:

1. Reducing and removing packaging

2. Sourcing renewable and recycled packaging materials

3. Choosing packaging that can be realistically recycled

4. Avoiding the use of harmful substances in packaging

5. Providing information to customers that increases understanding of how best to recycle or dispose of packaging

That right, your Trader Joe’s obsession?just got affirmed. The best chocolate-dipped, peanut butter-filled pretzels AND a conscious push towards greater sustainability?! It’s almost green grocery heaven.

Trader Joe’s closed their press release by stating, “We view this as ongoing work?in fact, never-ending work. As we continue in this endeavor, we are committed to openly sharing information about our progress.”

Hopefully more companies will adopt that outlook and become better stewards of our planet. In the meantime, Trader Joe’s: keep it up!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


How Trader Joe’s Will Save a Million Pounds of Plastic

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Why Regenerative Agriculture is the Future of Food

As we face an ever-growing need to combat climate change, many people around the world are looking at how we produce our food. Agriculture has a strong effect on climate change (and vice versa). While some methods contribute to higher pollution and environmental degradation, others actually have the potential to reverse climate change. And one of those practices is regenerative agriculture.

Defining regenerative agriculture

The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative of California State University, Chico and The Carbon Underground ? in conjunction with several other companies and organizations ? worked together to create a definition for regenerative agriculture. The goal was to give a basic meaning to the relatively new term and to prevent it from being ?watered down,? according to The Carbon Underground.

??Regenerative Agriculture? describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity ? resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle,? the definition reads. ?Specifically, Regenerative Agriculture is a holistic land management practice that leverages the power of photosynthesis in plants to close the carbon cycle, and build soil health, crop resilience and nutrient density.?

According to Regeneration International, the objective is to continuously improve the land, ?using technologies that regenerate and revitalize the soil and the environment.? The practice also helps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions ? a key factor in battling climate change. In a nutshell, farmers aim to leave the environment better than when they found it.

Although many of regenerative agriculture?s core tenets are similar to organic farming, the practices are not synonymous. Both farming methods do discourage the use of synthetic chemicals, though regenerative farmers might not necessarily be certified organic. And organic agriculture doesn?t guarantee a carbon drawdown, according to The Carbon Underground. Plus, unlike organic food, there?s no certification yet for regenerative products ? though a pilot program is in the works for farmers who practice regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative agriculture practices

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So what exactly do regenerative farmers do? The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative-The Carbon Underground definition lays out four main practices.

1. Contribute to soil building and fertility.

Regenerative agriculture discourages soil tillage. ?Tillage breaks up (pulverizes) soil aggregation and fungal communities while adding excess O2 to the soil for increased respiration and CO2 emission,? the definition document says. Besides carbon loss, it can lead to soil erosion and increased water runoff. Furthermore, farmers increase soil fertility through biological methods, including the use of cover crops, crop rotation, compost and manure. They avoid synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can create an imbalance in the soil?s microbiome, diminish nutrients and lead to weaker plants.

2. Improve water cleanliness and retention.

Avoiding synthetic chemicals also makes for less water pollution ? another core tenet of regenerative agriculture. Farmers have efficient irrigation systems to optimize water use and prevent contamination. Plus, as farmers work to improve the soil, this increases its ability for water retention. Among many other factors, limiting tillage is one practice that enhances water infiltration and retention.

3. Increase biodiversity, and boost the health of the ecosystem.

Regenerative farmers aim to protect natural ecosystems. ?Building biological ecosystem diversity begins with inoculation of soils with composts or compost extracts to restore soil microbial community population, structure and functionality,? according to the definition document. Again, farmers avoid synthetic chemicals on which plants can become dependent and fail to thrive naturally. They take soil samples to guide them in finding the right nutrient balance. And they use plants to attract beneficial insects.

4. Lessen CO2 emissions by diverting carbon back into the soil.

As regenerative farmers carefully manage their land and promote a healthy, natural ecosystem, it helps to increase carbon in the soil and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Plus, the farmers? avoidance of synthetic chemicals also helps to combat climate change, as they?re often produced using high levels of fossil fuels. As for livestock, regenerative agriculture involves well-managed grazing practices that lead to better land, healthier animals and lower carbon dioxide and methane emissions.

What?s in it for us?

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Regenerative agriculture offers several benefits to the global population ? and even noticeable ones to us as individuals. These are just a few, according to Regeneration International.

Boosts food?s nutrition

Regenerative agriculture tends to produce healthy, resilient plants. And as consumers, we benefit from this with more nutritious food. The nutrient-dense soil passes on that nourishment to the crops ? and our bodies. Plus, thanks to farmers nurturing the natural ecosystem, it?s better able to filter out pollution and chemicals from our food.

Restores nature

Regenerative agriculture is just that ? regenerative. Its methods help to improve biodiversity, which ?is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation,? according to Regeneration International. Plus, the farmers? grazing strategies work to restore grasslands that have been degraded.

Benefits local economics

Family farmers have taken a key role in regenerative agriculture. These are people who have a strong working knowledge of their local land and how best to sustainably manage it. So support of regenerative agriculture benefits these farmers and their local economies. Plus, keeping them in business means preserving the more traditional, environmentally friendly farming practices that go back generations.

Combats climate change

Agriculture is a major contributor to climate change around the world. ?The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions,? Regeneration International says. But regenerative agriculture has the potential to reverse this damage. Not only does it contribute lower emissions than conventional farming, but it has the ability to sequester more carbon in the soil, rather than in our atmosphere.

Feeds the global population

As the global population grows, food production will have to adjust one way or another. Continuing to use conventional farming methods likely would mean more deforestation ? and higher greenhouse gas emissions. But shifting to more widespread use of regenerative agriculture could lessen that blow. Regenerative farming conditions work to naturally protect crops from disease, pests, drought and more. This improves yields without having to add chemicals or other factors that can harm the environment. Thus, it could be a way to sustainably feed the global population for generations to come.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Why Regenerative Agriculture is the Future of Food

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15 Foods That Make Excellent Cleaning Products

Your kitchen is full of exciting meal-making possibilities. And your fridge and pantry probably hold several methods to clean your home that you might not even realize. Here are 15 foods that make excellent cleaning products.

1. Rice

Rice is a wonderfully versatile ingredient in recipes, and it even has a place in your cleaning arsenal. Good Housekeeping recommends using uncooked rice to gently, but effectively clean hard-to-reach spots in vases and other glassware. Simply fill the vessel with water, dish soap and rice, and swish the mixture so the rice scrubs the inside. Then, drain and rinse the glassware.

Additionally, you can use rice to remove built-up oils from a coffee or spice grinder, according to The Kitchn. Pulverize roughly a quarter cup of rice in your grinder, and then wipe it out with a damp towel. The oils will cling to the rice, leaving the grinder fresh for its next use.

2. Ketchup

Besides acting as fries? sidekick, ketchup can be a powerful cleaning product. According to Good Housekeeping, you can use ketchup to remove tarnish from copper-bottomed cookware just by massaging the surface with the acidic condiment. Some people even use this method to shine away tarnished spots on their cars. And if the ketchup isn?t enough to dissolve stubborn tarnish, you can try adding a pinch of salt for a bit of scrubbing action. (Or add potatoes, and have yourself a nice snack.)

3. Coffee grounds

Don?t dump those grounds after you enjoy your morning coffee. They have many uses around the house. Healthline suggests using coffee grounds to fertilize your garden ? or to create more nutrient-rich compost. Plus, you can use them to repel pests, including mosquitoes, fruit flies and beetles. Furthermore, a bowl of coffee grounds in your fridge can help to neutralize odors. And you can use them as a natural cleaning scrub on nonporous surfaces ? as well as to exfoliate your own skin.

4. Tea

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Not a coffee drinker? No worries. Tea has many cleaning uses, as well. ?The astringency of tea actually cuts through grease and dust,? according to The Spruce. ?Plus it also adds a shine to hardwood floors and furniture.? As a hardwood floor cleaner, simply brew a pot of tea with five or six tea bags. Then, pour the tea into your mop bucket, and add cool water if needed. Just be sure to test it on an inconspicuous area before mopping your whole floor.

5. Potato

Potatoes: They?re great mashed, baked, fried ? and as a rust cleaner. If your favorite cast iron skillet or other cooking utensils have gotten a little rusty, just grab a raw potato, according to The Kitchn. Slice it in half, ?dip the cut end in dish soap or baking soda and firmly rub it over the rusted area.? Repeat until you?ve removed all the rust, slicing off a new cut end if necessary.

6. Bread

Sliced bread was a pretty great invention, especially when you consider its more offbeat uses. That spongy piece of dough is excellent at cleaning up messes, according to Good Housekeeping. Use a slice to clean marks off walls or gently dust artwork. It even is effective at picking up glass shards. Simply press a slice over the broken glass, and even tiny shards should safely stick into the bread.

7. Banana peel

After getting your potassium fix, hang on to that banana?s handy peel for a little bit of cleaning. SFGate recommends using banana peels to dust houseplants, especially the ones you can?t spray with water. Simply wipe the leaves with the inner wall of the peel to remove dust and dirt and leave behind a healthy, banana-scented glow. And that?s not the only household item banana peels can make shine. According to Apartment Therapy, you also can use them to naturally polish silver. Blend up the peels to make a paste, and then work that paste onto your silver item with a cloth. Finally, dip the item in water to remove any remaining paste.

8. Baking soda

With its plethora of uses around the house, baking soda is as much a cleaning product as it is a cooking ingredient. Mix it with a little water to make a surface scrub, use it with dish soap to help cut grease and grime on cookware or even add it to mop water to clean marks off floors. A water-baking soda combo is excellent at cleaning the inside of your oven or microwave, it can polish silver and remove coffee and tea stains from pots and mugs. Plus, baking soda can deodorize most areas of your home, including the refrigerator, trash cans and even drains. Those little boxes certainly pack a major punch.

9. Lemon

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Baking soda might get a lot of cleaning glory, but lemon is right there with it. One of the easiest ways to clean your microwave is to chop up a lemon, add it to a bowl of water and heat it until your microwave window is steamy, according to Good Housekeeping. Wait at least 15 minutes for it to cool, and then wipe down the inside.

You also can clean wooden cutting boards by sprinkling them with a little salt, rubbing a cut lemon over it and then rinsing. Plus, lemon juice mixed with salt makes an effective brass cleaner. And don?t forget to add a little lemon rind to your natural all-purpose cleaner for a scent boost and some added cleaning power.

10. Olive oil

Olive oil isn?t just to make salads taste delicious. Add a bit of oil to a cloth, and buff stainless steel appliances to remove grime and make them shine, The Kitchn recommends. You also can use olive oil mixed with lemon juice to clean and condition wood (but test a small area first). Plus, an olive oil-coarse salt scrub can remove stuck-on food from cast iron skillets.

11. Vinegar

White vinegar might rival baking soda for its cleaning versatility. You can use it to ?freshen laundry, lift stains from carpet, brighten windows, and so much more,? according to Good Housekeeping. Plus, it makes a powerful all-purpose cleaner when mixed with water and baking soda (and essential oils if you wish). Soaking glassware in vinegar is an easy way to remove hard water stains. And a bowl of vinegar is an effective room deodorizer.

12. Salt

We might find salt in a lot of our favorite snacks, but it?s also an important ingredient in many effective cleaners. Salt adds a gentle abrasive factor to cleaning concoctions, making it useful to scrub away stains, food particles and even rust and tarnish, according to The Kitchn. Plus, it?s absorbent, which is why it?s a key factor in keeping wooden cutting boards sanitary. It soaks up all the liquid in the grooves, giving bacteria a less friendly environment to reproduce. And you even can sprinkle salt over liquid spills to help prevent stains.

13. Walnuts

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If you have wood furniture or floors, it?s almost inevitable that they?ll get some dings and scratches. And that?s where walnuts come in. The natural oils in walnuts ? Brazil nuts work well, too ? darken the wood and hide scratches, according to Good Housekeeping. Simply rub the damaged area with the nut until it blends better with the surrounding wood. It might not be a forever fix, but it does last for a while depending on the mark. And it?s cheap, easy and natural.

14. Club soda

Cleaning red wine stains with club soda has been a longstanding method. Some people swear by it while others claim there?s no scientific reason for it to work (though the secret might be in the bubbles). Still, this carbonated beverage has other cleaning applications. Use it to gently clean surfaces, including porcelain, stainless steel and even your car windshield. Its fizz plus slightly acidic nature helps to wash away marks and particles.

15. Vodka

If you have laundry that smells a little off, try spritzing it with a little vodka. No, really. According to Good Housekeeping, the vodka will kill odor-causing bacteria and dry completely scent-free. Just be sure to do a spot test first. Plus, a cloth moistened with a little vodka can work to shine chrome, glass and porcelain fixtures. And as an added bonus, it should clean away any mold on the surface, too. Cheers to that!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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15 Foods That Make Excellent Cleaning Products

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10 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Favorite Zero Waster

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate friends and family and linger in feelings of joy and gratitude. It’s also a great time to get your consumer habits in check!

Have a zero waster in your life who is trying to cut down on excess? Here are a few thoughtful gift ideas that won’t make them squirm, but smile instead!

10 Thoughtful Gifts for
Your Favorite Zero Waster

1.?Steel + Bamboo Chopsticks

Made from renewable, recyclable materials, these gorgeous steel and bamboo chopsticks are perfect for the foodie in your life! Plus, they come in a lovely little carry case, so they can be easily stashed in one’s purse.

2.?Zero Waste Self-Care Kit

Typical health and beauty products are designed for disposal and contribute to a significant portion of household waste. These beautifully crafted products may be used again and again, till the end of their life when they can be composted.

3.?Zero Waste Lunch Kit

Coffee cup, to-go tin, cutlery…this kit has everything one might need to go out for lunch without creating an ounce of garbage. Bonus: these are perfect for picnics! You might just want to pick one up for yourself.

4. Geranium Frankincense Body Oil

Perfect for that person in your life who loves luxury, this body oil smells sweet and nourishes the body with all sorts of delicious all-natural ingredients.

5.?“Don’t Mess With Mama” Tote

Help your recipient share their love for Mother Nature with the world! This bag will help them keep plastic bags out of landfills and make grocery shopping a whole lot more interesting.

6.?Opinel Folding Mini Chain Knife

This tiny but mighty pocket knife will be a no-brainer addition to your recipient’s “phone, wallet, keys” list. It has a million uses: cut off tags, open packages…you name it!

7.?Biodegradable Pela iPhone Case

Now your loved one can talk, text and tweet the sustainable way! This case is durable, eye-catching and biodegradable. No guilt. Tons of style.

8.?Dusk Lip Paint

Zero waste makeup doesn’t have to be crunchy. It’s classy too! Pick up this delightful hazy mauve lip paint if you want something out there. It’s flattering on every skin tone.

9.?Que 12-oz Collapsible Water Bottle

Say goodbye to plastic water bottles! This lightweight bottle will serve every need on the go. Made from silicone, its spiral design allows it to collapse to half its size. Especially great in airports, coffee shops and on hikes!

10.?Plaine Products Shampoo Subscription

Throwaway shampoo bottles are now a thing of the past! Plaine has done an incredible job designing a subscription service that delivers top-tier beauty products like shampoo and body lotion in refillable stainless steel containers. This is a serious zero waste win.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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10 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Favorite Zero Waster

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7 Easy Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today

Whether you?re a full-time eco-warrior or just learning about sustainability, there are many modifications you can make to your lifestyle to support a healthy planet. Here are seven cheap and easy changes you can make starting today.

1. Drive greener

The average American driver spends roughly 17,600 minutes behind the wheel each year, according to AAA. And each minute, traditional vehicles release pollutants that can spell trouble both for your health and the environment. ?Pollutants released by vehicles greatly increase air pollution levels and have been linked to adverse health effects, including premature mortality, cardiac symptoms, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and diminished lung function,? according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So if you burn fuel every day, it?s time to re-evaluate your commute. Look for alternatives, such as walking, biking, carpooling and public transportation. Find out whether you can telecommute to work or shift your hours to avoid sitting in heavy traffic. And try to run errands when traffic is light. The gas money you?ll save is just an added bonus to breathing cleaner air.

2. Create a meal plan

Are you guilty of buying more food than you can finish before it goes bad? You?re definitely not alone. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 percent of discarded solid municipal waste is food. That?s a serious waste problem, especially given the environmental impact of food production.

But with a bit of effort, you can dramatically cut your food waste. Simply plan your meals, write out a shopping list and stick to it. You don?t have to cut out impulse buys completely ? though you should avoid shopping on an empty stomach ? but if you do purchase something unexpected, be sure to adjust your meal plan so nothing spoils. And try to share or donate any excess food before it ends up in a landfill.

3. Learn what goes into your food

On the topic of food, you also should know what you?re buying. Food production often involves the use of chemical fertilizers, burning fossil fuels for transportation, inhumane treatment of animals, harm to wildlife and more. So as a consumer, it?s up to you to make responsible choices.

Buy local, organic and humanely raised food whenever possible. Look for ?fair trade? on the label for goods that promote better standards for the producers and the environment. And refuse to support restaurants and other establishments that don?t make these environmentally conscious choices.

4. Cut plastic waste

Plastic waste is a massive problem for our planet. It?s polluting oceans, killing wildlife and making us sick. Still, it?s unfortunately difficult to entirely avoid plastic in everyday life, but we can be more responsible about our use of it.

?You can start cutting down on your plastic waste in a few simple steps: use reusable bags when you shop, ditch single-use water bottles, bags, and straws and avoid products made from or packaged in plastic whenever possible,? the Center for Biological Diversity recommends. Consider buying items used instead of new to avoid plastic packaging. Shop local, and cut down on online purchases, which often come wrapped in plastic. And, of course, recycle everything you can. Saying no to that straw won?t clean an entire ocean, but it might save one sea animal?s life.

5. Switch to natural cleaners

Chemical cleaning products might make your home smell “meadow fresh” ? whatever that means ? but at a huge cost to actual meadows and your health. ?Store-bought cleaners typically contain dangerous chemicals, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and are packaged in petroleum-based products,? according to Ohio University?s Office of Sustainability.

Luckily, you can find eco-friendly cleaning products at most retailers, and you can easily make your own. Most clean and disinfect just as well as the chemicals, and you don?t have to be afraid to breathe while you knock out your chore list.

6. Question your purchases

You might buy something based on impulse, hours of research and everything in between. Hopefully, you at least pause to think about the impact of your purchase. ?Every product we purchase has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills,? the Center for Biological Diversity says.

So first ask yourself, ?Do I really need this?? If the answer is yes, as it often is, then look for items that have a smaller environmental impact. Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances or a fuel-efficient vehicle. Purchase furniture made from sustainable materials, such as bamboo ? or better yet, buy it secondhand. Basically, if you?re already putting in research before buying an item, don?t forget to consider the environment as a factor.

7. Time your showers

There?s plenty you can do to make your home more eco-friendly ? and much of it adds up to cost savings and better health for you, too. Upgrade your home?s insulation, and seal any air leaks to save on heating and cooling. Switch to energy-saving light bulbs and low-flow faucets. And grow low-maintenance, native plants in your garden.

If you?re a new eco-warrior, all those green options can be dizzying. So here?s a good place to start: Time your showers. To save water, you first have to realize how much you use. Try to beat your time each day by a minute, and ultimately you?ll learn only to use the water you need to get the job done. Then, let this victory in sustainability inspire you to branch out and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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7 Easy Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today

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How Self-Driving Cars Could Reduce Carbon Emissions

The age of autonomy is upon us. While we?re still several years away from robots fully taking the wheel, it?s safe to say that driverless vehicles are imminent. Our lives will soon be in the hands of technology, and with 94 percent of today?s accidents caused by human error, that?s probably for the best.

Self-driving cars promise more than convenience and fewer crashes ? and they might just be the key to a greener future. Currently, transportation is responsible for roughly 27 percent of the total carbon emissions in the US. The Intelligent Transportation Society of America claims that intelligent transportation systems (ITS) could reduce oil consumption and greenhouse gases by two to four percent each year (over 10 years) as technology continues to advance. A world of autonomous rides could greatly benefit our environment.

Say Goodbye to Idling Engines

We?ve all been gridlocked in a traffic jam during rush hour. But soon, autonomous vehicles will be able to outsmart traffic jams by exchanging information with other vehicles using a feature known as vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V).

Imagine never having to stop at a red light or tap your brakes ? fuel savings and emission reductions will be instant. With V2V, this could be a reality.

The Future Is Electric

While adoption of battery-powered vehicles has been slow, it?s also where some automakers are placing their bets. In early 2018, Jaguar Land Rover announced a partnership with self-driving car company Waymo to roll out 20,000 completely electric driverless Jaguar I-PACE models to Waymo?s fleet in the coming years.

Jaguar Land Rover?s Chief Executive, Ralf Speth, said, ?The future is electric in modern mobility.? And with electric vehicles emitting zero pollutants, we certainly hope so.

Multiple Forms of Transportation Will Be Critical

Without the stress of driving, autonomous vehicles could entice people to live farther away and endure lengthier commutes. But if self-driving cars still run on fossil fuels, we?re in trouble. One solution: encourage more ride sharing. Vanpooling and micro-transit are popular alternatives to the single-
passenger vehicle. While they?re perhaps not as efficient as a bus, they?re still better than a lone commuter in a car.

But the ultimate clean dream machine? Self-driving electric mass transit. In May 2018, Gainesville, Florida introduced an autonomous shuttle from EasyMile transporting up to 12 people at a speed of 25mph. These shuttles were designed to solve commuting challenges while running on zero emissions.
Most certainly a step in the eco-friendly direction.

More Technology, More Output ? More Efficient?

It?s important to note that, while self-driving cars may be less harmful to the environment, a study by the University of Michigan found they?re actually less efficient than standard vehicles. Wait, what?

Before you boycott, let?s talk about what it takes to build a driverless vehicle. A variety of sensors, cameras, and other cutting-edge technology adds up to more drag. And that extra weight produces 20 percent more emissions than our less-smart, human-driven rides. But considering the bigger picture, the
study found autonomous vehicles could lead to an overall 9 percent reduction of greenhouse gases and net energy emissions.

How is this possible? Think about wind turbines, for example. To get these machines up and running, you need to manufacture parts, ship them and assemble them, which burns fossil fuels. However, once up and running, wind turbines are considered one of the most sustainable ways to produce electricity.

What?s Next?

As automakers and tech giants continue the race toward autonomy, it?s crucial that lawmakers and city officials consider the impact transportation has on the environment, and act accordingly. In an ideal world, all self-driving cars would be electric with zero emissions. But some experts say that could take
up to 40 years. In the meantime, you?ll likely see a mix of self-driving and human-driven cars that run on traditional fuel, or hybrids and or electric technology.

There is also much speculation about how people will use their automated cars. The Department of Energy reported that self-driving vehicles could cut down fuel consumption by 90 percent or increase it by over 200 percent. In other words, only time will tell what happens next.

Haden Kirkpatrick is the head of marketing strategy and innovation at Esurance. Haden is responsible for all initiatives related to marketing strategy, product and service innovation. He is a futurist and an innovator who is constantly thinking about how IoT, self-driving cars and machine learning will impact the auto insurance industry. To learn more about Esurance?s current auto insurance policies, visit Esurance.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How Self-Driving Cars Could Reduce Carbon Emissions

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Here’s How to Put Together a Zero Waste Office

The office can quickly become the most wasteful room in the house. Known for piles upon piles of paperwork, countless single-use items, and energy-sucking electronic devices, it is so common for the office to get out of hand.

Ready to tackle the beast? Here are some simple, high-impact ways you can reduce the amount of trash coming out of your office. Just pick a few tips that work for you!

1.?Kick?the clutter.

First things first, you have to kick the clutter. It is next to impossible to maintain a zero waste mindset when you’re already bogged down by garbage. Start by creating three piles?? recycle, giveaway, throwaway?? and process everything in the office you don’t need anymore. You’ll be amazed how much lighter you feel when it’s done!

2. Choose reusable / compostable / recyclable.

While single-use items like plastic tape dispensers, highlighters, and staples are a significant portion of office-created garbage, reusables that cannot be broken down at the end of their lives are also big contributors. Opt for plain wooden pencils, compostable cardboard or recyclable metal binders, and refillable pens instead.

3. Share or borrow equipment.

Consider the number of times you truly require a printer at home. Could you make due with the one at your local library? Letting go of your home printer helps cut down on the temptation to print more than is actually required, plus you’ll probably save tons of money on ink…

4. Shop local as much as possible.

We all know the pull of Amazon…ohhh, the pull. Our addiction to convenience could be the end of us! If you have the option where you live, do your best to buy local as much as possible. It’s always great to support local business, and package-free is always best!

5. Go paperless.

Switch from paper to electronic billing, set up auto-pay on recurring bills, refuse phone books and newspapers, and contact all sources of junk mail and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. It’s a process, I know, but so worth it in the end.

All of this is worth it in the end. Happy zero waste-ing!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Here’s How to Put Together a Zero Waste Office

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How to Throw a Trash-Free Barbecue

We all know that barbecues produce a whole lot of garbage?? a lot of laughter, connection, and full bellies, of course, but a lot of garbage all the same. Seeing those stacks of paper plates, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and piles of disposable?cutlery going into the trash bin can make even the most blissfully unaware of us uneasy.

It doesn’t have to be this way! There are so many creative ways to enjoy a cookout with friends without creating three enormous bags of garbage. Simply embrace the package-free, the homemade, the reusable, and the compostable, then?let your imagination do its work.

How to Host a Zero-Waste Barbecue

1. Prepare in advance.

As soon as you know you’re hosting the gig, plan out your menu. Consider the list: what can you make ahead of time? Think you can whip up some burger buns? Why not spend a lazy weekend afternoon mixing up some vegan mayo? Many favorite condiments and toppings can be made at home, no problem.

2. Greenify your shopping trip.

When you shop for ingredients for your black bean burgers, plus all the summery sides you can imagine, work to avoid any excessive, non-recyclable packaging. Look for fresh, non-deli options like watermelon and blueberries, buy?snacks in bulk, and bring your own reusable?bags to the store. In addition, it’s a great idea to ask guests to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers at the end of the event!

3. Eliminate single-use items.

Plastic cups, paper plates, and disposable napkins should be a thing of the past ? they’re such a waste of cash! Instead, put out a nice pile of cloth napkins or bandanas, a collection of reusable cups, mason jars, and plates, and various silverware. Host events like this often? Consider investing in a cohesive set that you really like. Otherwise, thrift your stash and roll with the eclectic vibe!

4. Avoid single-serve beverages.

Rather than buying a large selection of canned and bottled beverages, consider making something at volume yourself (we especially love iced tea and fresh lemonade). Still want to offer additional choices? Purchase?those you know can be recycled locally ? say, drinks in glass or aluminum.

5.?Simplify clean-up for yourself and others.

For informal events, request that your guests scrape food scraps into the compost bin (don’t forget it!) and bring their dishes and cloth napkins inside for washing. For larger or more formal events, put out bins for dirty dishes, napkins, compost, and recyclables. Just make sure they’re clearly marked to avoid confusion!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Throw a Trash-Free Barbecue

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10 Effective Ways to Make Your Summer Flights More Eco-Friendly

Walk into any airport and you’ll find yourself?in a place custom-built for efficiency, not environmental sustainability. The United States airline industry alone discards enough aluminum cans every year to build nearly 58 Boeing 747s, and the 30 largest airports in the country create enough garbage to equal that produced by cities the size of Miami, according to this article in Scientific American.

But don’t expect the airlines and airports to change their ways anytime soon. Even in the midst of what we hope is a sustainability revolution, the industry remains remarkably apathetic, demonstrating a serious lack in initiative toward recycling and environmental sustainability in general.

This is a startling realization, particularly considering that more Americans are flying than ever before. Summer is the busiest time of year for?United States airlines. This year, despite a surge in fuel prices,?a record 246.1 million people are expected to fly between June 1st and August 31st, a nearly 4 percent increase since?2017.

Imagine each of these individuals checking a bag, grabbing a paper boarding pass, purchasing a magazine, tossing empty snack packs on the flight, and leaving behind a disposable face mask behind on the seat and you can see the problem…

Ready to do better?

Here are 10 meaningful ways you can be more eco-conscious when you fly.

1. Book direct flights and stay longer

Non-direct flights involve more takeoffs and landings than direct flights, because these activities burn more fuel than simply cruising through the skies. When booking your flight, choose an itinerary that has as few stops as possible. You’ll?waste less time standing in line and Mother Nature will thank you.

2. Sit in economy class

This is really just mathematics. Folks sitting in first or business class leave a much larger carbon footprint than those who are sitting in economy because they’re taking up more space. Some estimate that a premium flyer has a six times worse impact than an economy flyer. Yikes!

3. Opt for a (more) fuel-efficient aircraft

Some?airplane models are more efficient than others ? the best of the best including the Boeing B787-800 Dreamliner, Boeing B737 MAX, Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, and the Airbus A380. While you won’t be able to filter your flights by aircraft, you should be able to look up which airlines use them and go from there.

Lower your carbon footprint by flying economy class.

4. Pack as light as possible

A heavy aircraft works harder and burns more fuel than a light aircraft, so pack what you need and nothing more. Traveling with a group? Suggest sharing things like a hair dryer between you or?borrow from your hotel instead. Using a lightweight suitcase can make a meaningful difference.

5. Refuse all disposables

From your boarding pass to your in-flight munchies, you are going to encounter a ton of disposables. To start, simply skip the physical boarding pass and opt for an electronic version on your smartphone instead. Not only is this one less thing to worry about losing, it’s a helpful way to cut down on your personal waste at the airport. Second, think ahead and pack your own food for the flight, and request that flight attendants dispense drinks?into your reusable water bottle instead.

6. Bring your own in-flight gear

Bring your own headphones, eye mask and blanket (or sweater, preferably) so you won’t?create the need for the airline staff to unwrap and rewrap those items in plastic before the next flight.

Give priority to airlines who are making efforts toward fuel efficiency.

7. Offset your carbon

Many airlines ? Delta, Air Canada, United Airlines, Lufthansa ? have carbon offset programs that are designed to counter the CO2 emissions that were generated on your flight by putting resources toward an eco-friendly project?like?planting trees. Just make sure the offset program is certified, and remember that purchasing offset credits should?not be a means of justifying the system in its current form.

8. Lower the shades and open the vents

Closing the window shades might sound like overkill, but doing so actually keeps the aircraft a few degrees cooler ? enough to keep the staff from having to kick on the air conditioning any higher. A peek here and there is enough.

9. Favor airlines who prioritize fuel efficiency

If you have some flexibility with which airline you choose, consider checking this 2010 report by the International Council on Clean Transportation. They’ve listed airline carriers by fuel efficiency, from most efficient to least efficient, the difference between which?is a whopping?26 percent!

10. Limit unnecessary air travel

Limiting air travel is one of the?best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. So, when you’re planning a trip, consider using a carbon emissions calculator to see if driving might be a more eco-friendly option.

Related Stories:

3 Ways Becoming a Minimalist Will Improve Your Life
Minimalism is a Debt-Demolishing Lifestyle (Here’s Why)
How to Lead a Nearly Zero-Waste Life

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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10 Effective Ways to Make Your Summer Flights More Eco-Friendly

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7 Ways to Reduce Your Gas Consumption

When it comes to eco-friendly living tips, few things are as important as reducing your gas consumption overall. We’re talking about gasoline here?not to be confused with natural gas, another resource that bears consideration.

When it comes to using less gas, some tips are straight-forward and common-sense, while others require a little more creativity to pull off. Here are my top seven tips for reducing your gas consumption.

Live Near Your Work

If you’re currently renting or if you’re considering moving, make it a priority to relocate your home near where you work. Commuting is one of those things that many of us see as a necessary evil, but the shorter you make your commute, the better. Not only will you waste less gas, you’ll enjoy a higher quality of life. If you work in a big city, take public transit to get to work each day. Your reduction in transportation costs will likely even out the higher rent you’ll be paying.

Clean Out Your Car

Extra weight in your car means that it takes more gas to haul you and your personal belongings around. If you have a lot of junk in your trunk, store it somewhere else.

Carpool … There’s An App for That!

Carpooling remains a fantastic way to reduce gas consumption. Think about it this way: If everyone in the US commuted with just ONE other person, we’d be reducing the fuel consumption burned during rush hour by half! Carpool with friends, coworkers and family whenever possible. Don’t know anyone going to the same part of town as you? Download Carpool by Waze, a handy app that lets you connect with fellow carpoolers.

Use Cruise Control

When you’re on the highway, use cruise control. This will help you avoid choppy breaking and accelerating as much as possible. Your car probably knows how to coast better than you do, and setting your car to cruise control will help you save gas in the process.

Learn to Coast

When cruise control doesn’t seem like a viable, safe or convenient option, learn how to coast. While driving, consciously make an effort to avoid breaking unless its absolutely necessary. Instead, if you see a red light up ahead or a car slowing down in front of you, let your foot off the gas right away, giving yourself plenty of time to slow down without the break. By avoiding unnecessary breaking, you will help reduce your need to accelerate later and you’ll be saving gas by doing so.

Don’t Idle for more than 1 Minute

If you pull up to wait for a friend or to drop something in a mailbox, turn your car off if you believe you’ll be stationary for more than one minute. Idling burns gas with little to no return on investment.

Use the A/C on Low

You might think that opening your windows is a more eco-friendly option than using air conditioning, but that’s not necessarily the case. According to Cars Direct, having your windows open while driving reduces fuel efficiency by making your car less aerodynamic. If it’s cool outside, windows up and no A/C is the way to go. But if it’s hot outside and you need to keep things cool, roll up your windows and use A/C on a low setting.

Related Articles:

5 Ways to Make Your Car More Eco-Friendly
5 Ways Drivers Can Safely Share the Road With Cyclists
Why You Shouldn’t Drive in the Left Lane

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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7 Ways to Reduce Your Gas Consumption

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