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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

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Alternative Electricity Generation

How electricity is generated

Electricity plays an important role in our everyday lives, as it has a wide variety of uses. We rely on electricity to heat, cool, and illuminate buildings such as our homes, businesses, places of work, schools, hospitals, and on and on. Electricity also powers our cellphones, washers and dryers, computers, televisions, and appliances. But do you ever spend time thinking about where your electricity comes from? Electricity is a secondary energy source, meaning that we (generally) cannot find it in nature. Instead, we get it from the conversion of other sources of energy.

Two of the most common sources of energy used in electricity generation are coal and natural gas. Electricity is generated in power stations or power plants through the use of large machines called turbines. The spinning of the turbines causes large magnets to turn within copper wire coils, resulting in the movement of electrons. This movement of electrons within the copper wire coils is...

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Passive Solar

What is passive solar design?

Well, it is really the best of all worlds when you can heat or cool your home by simply taking advantage of the sun’s incoming solar radiation. It is free, sustainable and smart! Instead of relying on electricity or natural gas to heat a building, passive solar designs make use of a renewable resource, resulting in a significantly lowered environmental footprint. The goal of passive solar heating is to capture the sun’s heat within a building and release it during periods where the sun is absent. This allows the building to maintain a constant comfortable temperature without the use of electricity or natural gas. There are two major considerations when designing a passive solar building. The first element is the building’s orientation and window placement. The second is the use of thermal mass to absorb, store, and release heat. 

Orientation and window placement

The ideal passive solar building orientation depends on your location...

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Right to Repair Technology

It is likely that at one point or another, one of your electronic devices has broken. Whether your screen cracked, or your microphone stopped working, broken devices can be a frustrating experience, especially when manufacturers make it expensive to get your devices repaired. In some cases, a repair can cost you more than buying a new electronic device would! Although third-party repair shops exist and may be able to fix your devices at a lower cost, their abilities are limited when it comes to repairs which require specialized parts. Unfortunately, it is common practice for manufacturers to restrict access to repair manuals, use parts that are unique to their products, and make their specialized parts inaccessible to consumers and small repair shops. This forces the consumer to choose between using “authorized” repair shops or purchasing a replacement.

The right to repair

The right to repair electronics is government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the...

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Cycling Maps and Apps

Reducing barriers

While cycling is a great workout as well as a low-carbon means of transportation, there can be many barriers that prevent us from getting out on our bikes as often as we would like to. Some of those issues can be lessened with the use of cycling maps and apps as they allow us to better plan safe and enjoyable cycling routes using shared knowledge of the best routes. In addition, apps can help us track our progress which is great for motivation and they can even connect us with others interested in cycling and sharing information on how to get the most out of our time on our bikes.

Benefits of cycling

Cycling is not only an efficient and environmentally friendly method of transportation, but it is also a great way to get active outdoors. Cycling is low impact, meaning that it causes less strain and injuries than many other types of physical activities. This means cycling is suitable to a wide variety of ages and abilities. Additionally, cycling is relatively easy...

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Connect and Catalyze for Change with Pivot19.org

We have seen many positive actions arise during the COVID-19 pandemic as people come together to support one another and lessen hardships in our communities. Some projects and movements have been focused on making lasting change for the better, and one of them that I was able to participate in is called Pivot19. I had the pleasure of meeting the organization’s founder and lead, Vince Verlaan and was interviewed by him as one of the Changemakers featured in this project that aims to be a catalyst for lasting change.

A Natural Turning Point

It is clear that positive social, economic, and environmental changes must be made in order to work towards a better future for all. The sudden impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, should be regarded as a natural turning point for many of the environmental, social, and economic issues that have not only plagued our cities and countries for years, but have been exacerbated by the virus. Pivot19 is a grassroots movement that aims to drive...

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Grandmothers Advocacy Network

Creativity and Passion Unleashed in Older Women

While the later years of life may be seen by younger generations as a quiet time for pursuing hobbies and spending time with grandchildren, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) and similar organizations are turning that stereotype on its head by showing the world they are powerful activists and a strong political force for change! This network of grandmothers from across Canada are raising their voices and using their depth of expertise to advocate for a better world, especially for vulnerable children and for grandmothers across sub-Saharan Africa.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlines the obligations of governments to promote and protect human rights for all individuals across the globe. Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination. However, despite the presence of international human rights law, there are individuals, such as older women in sub-Saharan Africa, whose human rights are...

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Rewilding

What is rewilding?

Rewilding is an environmental conservation and restoration method that involves letting natural processes occur in order to reintroduce lost plant and animal species to their natural environments and restore degraded landscapes. This process allows nature to manage itself, creating healthy and biodiverse habitats for native species. Over time, human settlement has created a significant impact on the environment through processes such as urbanization, agriculture, pollution, and deforestation. The natural species and functions of the land are altered by human presence, whether it is intentional or not. For example, the Tall Grass Prairie, which once extended from southern Manitoba, Canada to the Texas border in the U.S., is now considered an endangered ecosystem due to agriculture and urbanization. This resulted in a significant loss of native plant and animal species that were once abundant throughout North America. Rewilding can help nature recover and re-assert...

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Dedicated Cycling Lanes

Cycling and safety

One of the largest barriers to cycling as a means of transportation is safety. According to the British Medical Journal, non-cyclists most often cite fear of motor traffic as a reason for choosing not to ride a bicycle. It is true that cycling on the roadway can be daunting, as many cities and roads are designed for motorized vehicles, leaving little room and consideration for cyclists. In fact, around 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year in Canada. Even with the proper protective gear, sharing a road with motorized vehicles can be risky. The size difference between motorized vehicles and bikes can mean that cyclists are less visible and can often find themselves in the blind spot of a motorist. This visibility issue is heightened by the fact that there are much fewer bicycles on the road compared to motorized vehicles. When you add in the speed differences between automobiles and bicycles, you can see that without proper cycling infrastructure,...

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Pot-in-Pot Refrigerator

Photo credit: Peter Rinker

Rethinking the refrigerator

Cycling refrigerant throughout a refrigeration system, the process which occurs in modern day refrigerators, isn’t the only way to keep food cool. Keeping food cool is important in order to reduce the rate of harmful bacteria growth and keep your food from going bad. While modern refrigerators may seem like one of the most common and useful methods of food preservation, the truth is that these types of refrigerators not only have a negative effect on the environment, but they are also not accessible to many people. Refrigerators that were made prior to 1995 may contain hazardous materials such as chlorofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases, and ozone depleting substances. New refrigeration appliances, although they have improved, still contain greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons which have the ability to trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Additionally, refrigerators can consume copious amounts...

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Rethaka Repurpose Schoolbags

Photo credit: Atlas of the Future

Thato Kgatlhanye is the founder of Rethaka Repurpose Schoolbags, an eco-friendly South African company which repurposes plastic bags by turning them into backpacks for school children. Rethaka Repurpose Schoolbags started as an assignment for a design course in college. This assignment encouraged students to design one single product which will provide a solution to three of the most prevalent social issues in the town of Rustenburg, South Africa. These three issues are plastic pollution, unemployment, and lack of electricity. This college project resulted in the idea for Repurpose Schoolbags, a practical solution to plastic pollution while making it easier for children to attend school. Repurpose Schoolbags has since become the first green initiative from Rethaka, a social startup that was created by Thato Kgatlhanye and Rea Ngwane.

Enhancing education and promoting safety of schoolchildren

The Repurpose Schoolbags not only improve the environment...

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