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Fighting Climate Change and Anxiety: 7 Tips to Help

Climate ChangeThe increase in climate anxiety is a significant concern for many people. With global warming posing an imminent threat to the environment and public health, tackling issues such as climate change can be highly stressful. Follow these tips from the solar panel experts at Suntex to help relieve both stress and environmental strain.

Use Your Bicycle More and Car Less

Anxiety and depression are common conditions, and the threat of climate change can increase these feelings. Regular fitness is an excellent way to relieve anxiety.

One way to reduce your carbon footprint while also getting some exercise is to use your bicycle more often and drive your car less. This can be a great way to reduce stress while also helping the environment.

If you live in an area with favorable weather, try riding your bike to work or when running errands instead of driving. It’s a simple step to reduce emissions and give you some much-needed time outdoors.

Support Eco-Friendly Businesses

Another way to help reduce your impact on the environment is to support eco-friendly businesses. This includes companies that use sustainable practices, such as using recycled materials or renewable energy. Patronizing these businesses can help reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions while also contributing to a more sustainable economy.

Start Your Own Sustainable Business

You can also start an environmentally friendly company to help do your part in saving the planet. This can be a great way to create a positive impact while also improving your financial wellness. To begin, develop a business plan that details your product or service and how you plan to fund and operate the business.

You’ll also need to develop strategies to market your business. Once you have a plan, start looking for investors or partners who share your vision. It’s important to have business cards to hand out while you are networking and gaining support for your endeavor. You can try this free online business card design tool to create something you’ll love for a fraction of the amount you’d spend working with a designer. Just choose a template you like, add your information, and you’re ready to start networking!

If you’re starting a business, you need to get paid on time. Work out an invoicing process that ensures you get paid promptly. This could include giving your customers multiple payment options, keeping billing terms easy to understand, and politely following up on late payments. You can create invoices that incorporate your brand with an online invoice generator. After choosing a template, add your terms, color scheme, and company logo.

Climate ChangeReduce Home Energy Use

One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce your home energy use. There are various steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption. Unplugging appliances when they aren’t in use, using energy-efficient appliances, investing in LED light bulbs, and insulating your home are excellent ways to reduce energy use.

You can also choose to use more eco-friendly cleaning products instead of supporting companies that produce toxic products through not-so-green methods. Plus, many of these natural options are much less expensive, too. Consider the cost of baking soda and vinegar compared to brand name cleaning products. Plus, these cheaper alternatives will last longer!

Recycle

Recycling is another great way to make a positive impact. By recycling household items such as plastic, paper, and glass, you can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve resources. You can also compost food waste to reduce methane emissions. Recycling can save you money as well. Many municipalities offer perks for households that recycle.

Plant Trees

Trees are a great way to help offset carbon emissions and improve air quality, explains the World Economic Forum. They also provide shade and beauty to your home or business. If you have the space, consider planting a tree in your yard. If you don’t have a yard, consider donating to organizations that plant trees in deforested areas.

Support Eco-Friendly Legislation

One way to help fight climate change is to support eco-friendly legislation. This can include voting for candidates who support green policies, signing petitions, and contacting your representatives about critical environmental issues. It may also reduce anxiety about climate change to know you’re contributing to something positive.

Look for initiatives that support residential solar adoption. Many states have adopted these programs to make solar an affordable option for homeowners. Texas has some solar incentives in place, so work with a local company like Suntex whose employees will know what sorts of discounts and rebates are available to you.

Relieve Climate Stress Through Positive Change

Fighting climate change can be a source of stress for many people. However, there are ways to reduce anxiety and stress related to climate change. Whether you’re planting more trees, adding solar to your home, or starting your own eco-friendly business, you can start making positive changes right now with just a little planning and perseverance!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer Emma Grace Brown. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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Preparing to Weather the Storm

Preparing for Winter WeatherHappy Groundhog Day 2023, at least for those hoping for six more weeks of winter it will be at least. According to Newsweek, Punxsutawney Phil did see his shadow this year denoting that we’re not quite done with the winter holiday as of yet (https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/groundhog-day-2023-did-punxsutawney-phil-see-his-shadow/ar-AA171Bra). While I love the possibility of snow and sweater weather extending into the early months of the year, it can present some difficult challenges for Texans as well as we brace for the possibility of another winter storm this year.

The good news is that since we’ve endured a few over the past years, there is a collective knowledge, understanding, and protocol for dealing with these types of situations and while we hope not to have to employ them, it’s always best to be prepared to “weather the storm.”

With that said, you can of course consult our previous blog posts on how best to prepare or deal with power outages during a freeze, here: https://suntexllc.com/survival-tips-from-texans-weathering-the-storm/, or if you would prefer, read on to learn more!

 

Prepping your home for freezing temperatures:

  1. COVER YOUR OUTDOOR FAUCETS: As you’ve likely seen before, one of the first things that should come to mind when preparing for freezing temperatures is covering your outdoor water spickets. Why? The reason for this is that when exposed to temps below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes – particularly those with water still trapped inside – can expand, or in this case contract, potentially causing cracks and leaks which could cause lots of damage to your home, even without you noticing it for some time.In order to prevent your pipes from freezing and contracting, it’s best to cover them with a foam insulator in order to keep the temperature above freezing as much as possible. You can typically find outdoor spicket coverings at your local hardware store, however they may be harder to come by in the week just before the freeze, so it’s best to keep these on-hand and bring them out only when necessary. Once temperatures increase again – likely to 50 degrees (F) or even 70 degrees (F) the next day in Texas – you can safely remove the coverings and store them in your garage where you’ll be able to find them the next time the temperature dips below freezing.

    If you cannot find foam covers, or they’re all sold out at the store – don’t fret! You can also use foam noodles, or even Styrofoam coolers as a replacement – just make sure to cover the entire faucet and/or opening and tape up any gaps/holes in the covering. If you cannot get ahold of any foam/Styrofoam, your last resort is to just use towels. Again, the main idea here is to keep the faucet completely covered and sealed so that you’re able to maintain the temperature as best as possible above freezing.

  2. HIDE YOUR PLANTS! Similar to your outdoor faucets, if you’re interested in preserving your garden through a freeze you’ll likely want to cover up any outdoor plants, and bring any inside that are potted so that you can keep their temperatures well above freezing. Many plants don’t do well in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so you may need to keep them covered for longer than the duration of the freeze.

    Because I like to reuse materials as much as possible while maintaining a clean space, I love using old shower curtains for this purpose. You can also use tarps, or really any other type of plastic covering that will let light through, while keeping rain and/or frost out. Simply drape your plastic covering over the plant, and seal down the sides with rocks/sticks/etc. so that you’re able to create sort of a mini greenhouse where your plants can continue to thrive while maintaining their own heat from within.

    Of course, if you’ve had time to plan ahead for this you might even consider planting a freeze-tolerant garden so you don’t have to worry too much about covering it up in the case of a freeze, but if you just can’t help but plant gardenias (and who could blame you?!) , then you’ll want to keep this in mind during the winter months when the temperature can dip below 40 and stay there for days at a time.

  3. HOPE FOR THE BEST, PREP FOR THE WORST: If you’ve lived in Texas for more than a year, or even if you’ve watched the news over the past few winters, you’re likely familiar with the reason behind this statement: when Texas freezes, the power will likely go out, and it’s better to be prepared for it than to try and address it after the fact. This means making sure you have the basics covered for surviving, so that you can shift your focus in these moments to thriving: candles, flashlights, and lanterns are accessible and easy to find; blankets are clean and plentiful; and you know how to stay warm safely, particularly if the roadways are frozen and dangerous.The Spruce has provided a pretty good list for how to keep warm if you don’t have heat, feel free to check it out here: https://www.thespruce.com/ways-to-keep-warm-without-turning-up-the-heat-1388206#:~:text=13%20Tips%20for%20Staying%20Warm%20Without%20Turning%20Up,8%20Reverse%20the%20Ceiling%20Fan%20…%20More%20items – and while some of these will not be applicable without power, there is still a lot of great information. For example, the importance of layering your clothing can not be overstated!

    A good rule of thumb is to use the loose-tight-loose layering rule: when adding layers, start with a fitted layer (like leggings or long johns), and then add a looser layer (think long-sleeved t-shirts and sweatpants), and then add one more fitted layer on top (this one may seem a little less comfy since you’re now stuffing yourself into something tighter than your previous layer, however the heat your body creates between layers can get trapped in the extra space, helping you build heat between layers like a mini-greenhouse effect for your body).

    Don’t forget about your fuzzy socks! It may even be helpful to stuff your pants into your socks, and then try to avoid all of your neighbors because you will look ridiculous – but you’ll be warm!

Preparing for Winter Weather: Stay WarmThe Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

Finally, one thing I must mention here is that Carbon Monoxide is deadly. This was a major cause of death during Winter Storm Uri and because it’s colorless and odorless, it can be really difficult if not impossible to detect. So, don’t try and heat your home using your gas stove!

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning gas, and the longer you utilize a gas-burning device, the more carbon monoxide enters the atmosphere. This is also why you should not sit in a running vehicle in an enclosed garage. While jumping in your car to heat up from time to time can be really helpful for keeping warm, make sure that your car is parked in a well-ventilated area when you do so that you don’t fall victim to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Stay Warm!

There are plenty of additional ways to keep warm if your power goes out, and luckily temperatures are expected to increase above freezing temperatures within a couple of days this time around, so my recommendation would be to wait it out at home if you are able to do so, and mitigate any unnecessary congestion on the roads so you don’t have to be bailed out later. However if you lose power and cannot hunker down, do what’s best for you! If you must go to a hotel nearby, or a friend’s house that’s connected to a hospital energy grid, then please do so. Just be safe out there, and most importantly, stay warm!

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Happy New Year, and Welcome to 2023!

Happy New YearHappy New Year! We’re so excited for 2023 and we hope you are too! It’s been an exciting holiday season and I can safely say I’m grateful for the time I spent with friends and family this year, particularly since it’s been tricky to get together the past couple of years.

This year, my husband and I were able to travel to Seattle, WA to visit his family for the holidays and were greeted immediately by snowfall just as we arrived! We got very lucky since the snowstorm would later cause several delayed and cancelled flights, but thankfully we got there just in time to avoid the worst of the winter weather, and were able to spend a warm and wonderful holiday week together.

The kids and I decorated gingerbread houses and men and women, the adults played “White Elephant” which always leads to some happy shenanigans, and we all ate a lot of delicious food! Safe to say it was a warm and restorative week filled with laughter, and I hope that yours was too.

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Gratitude for a Wonderful Year in 2022, and a Very Merry Christmas too!

Gratitude, Merry ChristmasChristmas is a time for joy, for reflection, for gratitude and love. I want to thank every single person who works for and with SUNTEX for making such a remarkable impact on my life, and wish you all a very Happy Holiday season, and a Merry Christmas! I am grateful to you, and so happy that our paths crossed. Have a blessed day, and I hope to see you again next year. Enviando paz y amor a ti a a tus familias.

La Navidad es un tiempo de alegría, de reflexión, de gratitud y de amor. ¡Quiero agradecer a cada una de las personas que trabajan para y con SUNTEX por tener un impacto tan notable en mi vida, y les deseo a todos unas Felices Fiestas y una Feliz Navidad! Estoy agradecida contigo, y muy feliz de que nuestros caminos se hayan cruzado. Que tengas un bendecido día, y espero volver a verte el próximo año. Enviando paz y amor para ustedes y sus familias.

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Solar Energy and Climate Change in 2022 by Verna Badenhorst

Solar Energy Climate ChangeWhat is Solar Energy?

Solar Energy is radiant light and heat from the Sun that is harnessed using a range of technologies such as solar power to generate electricity, solar thermal energy (including solar water heating), and solar architecture, according to Wikipedia.

It is an essential source of renewable energy, and its technologies are broadly characterized as either passive solar or active solar depending on how they capture and distribute solar energy or convert it into solar power. Active solar techniques include the use of photovoltaic systems, concentrated solar power, and solar water heating to harness the energy.

Passive solar techniques include orienting a building to the Sun, selecting materials with favorable thermal mass or light-dispersing properties, and designing spaces that naturally circulate air.

The large magnitude of solar energy available makes it a highly appealing source of electricity (Solar energy – Wikipedia).

Solar energy, also known as solar power, is a clean and renewable source  that comes from the sun energy It’s considered to be a clean and renewable source of power because the sun can produce an infinite amount of it, and it doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases into the atmosphere like fossil fuels do.

Technology is used to convert sunlight into electricity. The energy can be converted to heat, light, or electricity and used in many ways like powering homes, businesses, and even cars.

How Does Solar Energy Work? Solar Energy Climate Change

The sun is the primary source of energy for earth, and it has been for billions of years. Solar panels are a way to harness this energy and turn it into usable power. Solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells that capture the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity.

The electricity they produce can be used to power anything from a cell phone to an entire home, or even an entire city. The amount of electricity produced by a solar panel depends on how much sunlight is hitting it at any given time, as well as how well it’s designed.

A solar panel in New York will produce more electricity than one in Florida because Florida gets less sunlight than New York does. The best panels are those that are designed to receive the most amount of sunlight possible.

A solar panel has several different components, but they all work together to create power. A solar panel is made up of two basic parts: cells and wiring. Cells are what capture the sun’s energy and turn it into electricity, while wiring is how this electricity gets sent out of the system.

How Does Solar Power Benefit the Environment?

The more I learn about the benefits of solar energy the more I understand its implications. Many systems use solar energy, and as energy prices rise and fossil fuel reserves run out, solar energy is becoming more and more efficient.

Homeowners can add savings by switching to solar each month. Even as an alternative to energy produced by fossil fuels, solar energy offers many environmental benefits. Solar power not only saves you money on your electricity bill, but it also helps you make a positive change in the natural world around you.

The traditional source of electricity was the fireplace. Large amounts of coal are burned to fuel our homes and cities contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. We breathe this air, and it is also a major contributor to climate change with potentially dire consequences for all of us.

The carbon released into the atmosphere when coal and gas are burned contributes to local and global pollution. On the other hand, solar energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, owning a solar-powered home saves you from burning over 5000 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

This equates to planting over 150 trees each year. Imagine thousands of people switching to solar energy! It all starts with each of us doing our part. Transitioning to solar is something you can do today. It’s healthier air to breathe because it emits fewer greenhouse gases each year and less dirt for all of us to breathe.

As urban populations grow, we need to reduce pollutant emissions for our health and the health of the planet.

Another advantage of solar energy is the precious water resource in the environment. In addition to serving as an alternative to hydroelectric power, solar energy uses far less water than other energy sources. Coal, natural gas, and other conventional energy sources require large amounts of water to operate.

Harnessing solar energy can also keep rivers and bodies of water clean when water needs are at their peak. Other energy sources often pollute surrounding streams and lakes. This can have serious long-term consequences for the ecosystems that depend on it.

Using solar energy in your home also helps reduce air pollution from cars. At least the car is moving away from you. Whether you want to drive an electric car now or own a home in the future, you can offset the pollution caused by fossil fuels. By powering your home with solar panels, you can change using electricity from coal and other polluting sources.

With solar power installed in your home you won’t have to worry about your utility bills rising. Even in the industry you can make a lot of money. You can feel more confident while doing something positive for the world around you.

Solar power has a lot of benefits for the environment: it doesn’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions or air pollution, it doesn’t require burning fossil fuels, it doesn’t produce radioactive waste or nuclear waste and it reduces our dependency on fossil fuel imports from unstable regions in the world. It’s clean, green, and sustainable.

In order to use solar power, you need to make sure that you have a place for the photovoltaic cells. The panels generate energy when exposed to sunlight, so they should be in an area with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. You can also buy solar-powered streetlights or solar lighting for your home.

Can we Solve Climate Change with More Solar Panels?

Climate change is a sad reality and is changing the world as we know it. Its effects are seen all over the world in extreme weather conditions wreaking havoc on the environment, economy, and society. Climate change is part of the human experience and will continue for years to come.

We must solve climate change by investing in renewable energy. The problem is that it’s not happening fast enough, and the world is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) renewable energy, and in particular power generation, has entered a virtuous cycle of falling costs, increasing deployment, and accelerated technological progress, up-to-date data on costs has become a critical for policy makers, business, researchers, and others. Solar PV module prices have fallen by around 90% since the end of 2009, while wind turbine prices have fallen by 49-78% since 2010 making renewable energy cost competitive (Power generation costs (irena.org).

Conclusion: The Future of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is the future. It is not just because of environmental concerns, but also because it is the most cost-effective source of energy. It is only a matter of time before we see renewable energy as a mainstream form of power generation.

Contact Suntex LLC today to find out how to add solar power to your home. We will work with you to determine how much energy you need and design the right system for your home and your energy needs.

The good news is: the future of renewable energy looks bright.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by Energy Consultant, Verna Badenhorst. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content. If you would like to learn more about the work Verna is doing, feel free to check out her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087851139652 

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Why is Renewable Energy Important to Me? by Verna Badenhorst

What is “renewable energy?” Currently the largest part of the world’s electricity supply is produced from fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. These traditional energy sources hold various challenges including but not limited to rising prices, growing environmental concerns over the climate change risks and a limited supply of fossil fuels.

Current Renewable Energy Landscape

Governments, businesses, and consumers are increasingly supporting the development of alternative energy sources and new technologies for electricity generation. Renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric and wind power generation have all emerged as potential alternatives which address some of these concerns. As opposed to fossil fuels, renewable energy sources are generally unlimited in availability.

One of the most rapidly growing renewable sources of electricity is solar power. Solar power generation has several advantages over other forms of electricity generation: Solar energy does not require any form of fuel to work. Although there is variability in the amount and timing of sunlight over the day, season and year, a properly sized and configured system can be designed to be highly reliable while providing long-term, fixed price electricity supply.

Potential Benefits of Renewable Energy

Renewable energy

Solar power production generates electricity with a limited impact on the environment as compared to other forms of electricity production. Solar panels can be added as the need arises. With more and more technological advances in solar power, it is fast becoming a viable alternative is conventional electricity supply.

The harsh reality of constantly rising energy prices and constant blackouts for the rest of our lives is staring us all in the face. So there has never been a better time to invest in solar energy for your home. With the increasing costs of regular electricity, finding an alternative energy solution is becoming more and more crucial. With the supply of fossil fuels soon not being able to meet the demand it is now time to find a better alternative. With the advances that have been made in renewable energy the cost is no longer prohibitive. And the next time electricity prices increase, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Financial savings aren’t the only reason why homeowners go solar. There are many benefits of going solar, including saving huge amounts of money on electricity bills, you can add tens of thousands of dollars in tax free equity to your property, cleaning up the environment and supporting U.S. energy independence.

The Federal Tax Credit, which is available in all states, also offers an incredible 30% reduction in solar installation cost. But it shrinks to 22% in 2023. Two years may seem far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. So, the time to invest in solar energy is now.

Solar power is one of the most environmentally friendly energy solutions. With little to no impact on the environment it is the ideal choice for supplying power to homes and businesses. With global warming becoming more apparent every year it’s time now to start making a difference by switching to a cleaner source of power.

With energy costs on the rise, rooftop solar can save you money every month. It puts you in control since the rates for solar don’t fluctuate like they do with utility companies. Instead of making the electricity company richer every month, you can rather invest in your own home.

In a large study, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (https://www.lbl.gov/) looked at the value of homes with rooftop solar. They quantified it based on homes sold across eight states, and over a fifteen-year period.

One of the findings was that home buyers consistently pay more for homes with solar installed. In fact, the homeowners who invested in solar made back at least as much they spent buying the system. Plus, homes with solar installed spent less time on the market.

The bottom line is that in terms of renewable energy, Solar energy is:

  • Inexpensive
  • No money up front
  • 100% Financing
  • 30% Tax Credit
  • Quick ROI
  • Clean, renewable, good for your wallet and good for the planet.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by Energy Consultant, Verna Badenhorst. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content. If you would like to learn more about the work Verna is doing, feel free to check out her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087851139652 

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NIGERIAN ENERGY LANDSCAPE IN 2022 by Ojo Teminijesu Damiola

Nigeria EnergyNigeria is Africa’s energy giant. It is the continent’s most prolific oil-producing country, which, along with Libya, accounts for two-thirds of Africa’s crude oil reserves. It ranks second to Algeria in natural gas (energysustainsoc.biomedcentral.com). Before I go on, I must warn you that these promising traits take a turn as you keep reading.

Nigerian Energy Resources: Bitumen and Lignite

Most of Africa’s bitumen and lignite reserves are found in Nigeria. In its mix of conventional energy reserves, Nigeria is simply unmatched by any other country on the African continent. It is not surprising therefore that energy export is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Also, primary energy resources dominate the nation’s industrial raw material endowment.

Several energy resources are available in Nigeria in abundant proportions. The country possesses the world’s sixth largest reserve of crude oil. Nigeria has an estimated oil reserve of 36.2 billion barrels. It is increasingly an important gas province with proven reserves of nearly 5,000 billion m3 (energysustainsoc.biomedcentral.com).

This is where the surprise comes in as Nigeria continuously suffers from an inadequate supply of usable energy due to the rapidly increasing demand, which is typical of a developing economy. Nigeria’s energy need is on the increase, and its increasing population is not adequately considered in the energy development program. The present urban-centered energy policy is unevenly distributed, as cases of rural and sub-rural energy demand and supply do not reach the center stage of the country’s energy development policy.

People in rural areas depend on burning wood and traditional biomass for their energy needs, causing great deforestation, emitting greenhouse gases, and polluting the environment, thus creating global warming and environmental concerns. The main task has been to supply energy to the cities and various places of industrialization, thereby creating an energy imbalance within the country’s socioeconomic and political landscapes.

Nigeria’s Energy Capacity

Nigeria’s grid has an installed capacity of roughly 12,522 megawatts, but due to poor infrastructure, it is only able to deliver around 4,000 megawatts most days, according to the US Agency for International Development.

Nigeria’s national electricity grid has collapsed more than 200 times in the last nine years, regularly resulting in widespread blackouts. There are also health risks from the emissions of inefficient petrol generators, which are widely used in Nigeria. It is estimated that electricity generator sets consume $22 billion worth of fuel yearly.

The grid collapsed twice in March 2022 within 48 hours. There are a number of factors to explain this situation and thus inform what needs to be done about it. They include insufficiently trained personnel, deficiency in local manufacturing, poor utility performance, theft of grid equipment, weather, gas supply, insufficient funding and the age of grid infrastructure (Theconversation.com).

Hungry for energy, millions of Nigerians put up with noisy, smoky petrol-fueled generators to power their lives. In some situations, the amount of electricity supplied to the grid is lower than the electricity demand. When this occurs, an automatic load shedding plan is activated. But if this fails, the generators switch off one after another until there is a complete collapse of the national grid.

In Nigeria, the system mismatch occurs frequently because demand is regularly beyond available power allocated to distribution companies at certain periods.

The buoyancy of Nigeria’s energy outreach has really taken a turn as you can see from the above information. It is ironic that the most prolific oil producing country suffers from such terrible power struggles. In order to ensure the sustainability of energy supply and subsequently the sustainable economic development of the country, the government has to intensify the further implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. As observed in quite a number of successful countries promoting renewable energy, such as Germany, Denmark, and Japan, a strong and long-term commitment from the government is crucial in implementing any kind of policies which will lead to the development of renewable energies, in particular, and a sustainable development, in general (energysustainsoc.biomedcentral.com).

It’s a movement that has already begun. Hopefully, the Nigerian energy landscape can make an auspicious return that lives up to her great name.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer and Energy Consultant, Teminijesu Ojo. Please reach out directly to SUNTEX if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content. You can find more information from Teminijesu on her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100087631274569.

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Ethically Environmental: Patagonia’s Priority…The Planet

We don’t see many examples of companies taking a stand for their values, let alone the environment. Most companies are driven solely by profits rather than values. The way that company leaders view values and profits is usually that they belong in two different worlds –

Patagonia Founder, Yvon Chouinard

profits are the important and valuable aspect of business, while values are something that can be swept under the rug. But every once in a while, a company shines through the darkness of corporate hedonism and exemplifies honest values over profit mentality for the sake of humanity.

This past Wednesday, that values and ethically driven company shined it’s light upon the world. That afternoon word spread that the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, had decided to give up his $3 billion outdoor retail company… and not for a reason most people would think. Chouinard gave the outdoor apparel company away in order to help combat climate change. His announcement came via an open letter on the company’s website.

 

He announced that rather than selling the company or taking it public, the company is “going purpose” rather than “going profit,” by making Earth it’s one and only shareholder. 

The overview of the “sale” includes the following:

  • The company’s voting shares—2% of the company—went to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, a trust that is overseen by family and advisors that make important company decisions.
  • The other 98% went to the Holdfast Collective, a nonprofit that will distribute all profits—about $100 million annually—to environmental causes

“It’s been a half-century since we began our experiment in responsible business. If we have any hope of a thriving planet 50 years from now, it demands all of us doing all we can with the resources we have. As the business leader I never wanted to be, I am doing my part. Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth, we are using the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source. We’re making Earth our only shareholder. I am dead serious about saving this planet.” -Yvon Chouinard, Founder of Patagonia

 

His decision to choose the planet over profits, has sparked conversations and debates around  the world—from consumers scrambling to support the company’s cause to leaders and executives mulling over the idea of following in Chouinard’s footsteps.

It’s no lie that great companies—especially environmentally and socially responsible ones–are loved and respected for their values and the commitments they make to their communities, customers, and employees. The products they produce are great, but they have never put shareholder wealth at the top of the list.

Yvon Chouinard is a legendary rock climber, avid surfer, nature lover, blacksmith, and falconer extraordinaire. He has lived out of his car selling camping gear he made himself to get by, so he could continue to do the thing he loves to do—be in nature.

The birth of Patagonia came when he started selling rugby shirts after a trip to Scotland, where they proved to be extremely durable climbing shirts. The company was built in 1973 for the passionate climbers and outdoor enthusiasts everywhere that wanted products that were long lasting, durable, and environmentally friendly. Along with the launch, the company’s first catalog featured a leave-no-trace, responsible climbing manifesto.

Over the years Chouinard and the Patagonia brand have made it their mission to sell consumers durable clothing with a free fix guarantee to ensure that they never over produced apparel, or created an overconsumption trend with their consumers. They have continuously worked to make the world a better place by supporting social and environmental causes all over the world, as well as educating their employees and customers, and taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. They are the poster child of socially sustainable business. There are numerous examples of how Patagonia has put purpose before profits when the issues are not impacting their company.

Patagonia

Patagonia sells out of “Vote the Assholes Out” Shorts

  • The company donates 1% of its sales (a self-imposed Earth tax) to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment, with over $140 million donated since 1985.
  • Chouinard and Craig Matthews, owner of Blue Ribbon Files, created the 1% for the Planet non-profit corporation made up of an alliance of businesses to encourage others to contribute to protecting the natural environment and pave the way for more corporate responsibility.
  • They offer an Iron Clad guarantee, that guarantees their customers replacement, refund, or repair if the clothing is damaged or doesn’t live up to their satisfaction.
  • Patagonia also has a hub that keeps gear in play, called Worn Wear, where they sell used Patagonia gear, offer trade-in credits for items that customers no longer use, provide DIY repair and care tips, and recycle items at the end of their useful lives. They believe that one of the best things they can do for the planet is cutting down on consumption and getting more use out of products that people currently own.
  • They have a venture fund that invests in start-ups that work on environmental issues, called Tin Shed Ventures, since 2013 they have provided over $20 million to 12 companies working for the social and environmental good of the planet.
  • They launched a food company, Patagonia Provisions, that offers organic and regenerative foods to help mitigate climate change.
  • They are a fierce defender of public lands, and in 2017, they sued the Trump
  •  Administration in an effort to protect the Bear Ears National Monument.
  • To ensure the sustainability and recyclability of their clothing, they permanently transitioned away from adding permanent branding or logos to their gear, since the additional non-removable logo reduces the garment’s life span by a lot.
  • Patagonia released a documentary called “DamNation,” that aims to mobilize support the removal of dams, especially those that are deemed harmful and obsolete on order to revive wild fish populations.
  • In 1996, after a group of employees were arrested for protesting against logging, they established a bail policy. This policy helps any employees who is arrested while peacefully protesting provided they take an optional nonviolent civil disobedience training.
  • The provide an Environmental Internship Program that allows employees to take a two month paid leave to work for any environmental group of their choosing.
  • They have never been keen on Black Friday. In 2011, they took out an ad in the New York Times urging people not to purchase their clothing for Black Friday to bring attention to the company’s Common Threads Initiative. And in 2016, they donated 100% of all Black Friday sales to grassroots organizations.
  • This past year, Patagonia donated $1 million to Black Voters Matter and the New Georgia Project to fight restrictive voting laws in Georgia.
  • They launched We The Power, a campaign and documentary film that shines a light on the citizen-led renewable community energy movement happening across Europe. They also became the first commercial customer in California to commit to purchasing 100% renewable energy.

 

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the causes that Chouinard and Patagonia are committed to. Their website, part clothing store and part educational toolbox, boasts the support of even more of their activism initiatives. Whether or not you agree with their stand, it’s admirable, and honestly astounding that they take such a strong stand for issues aligned with their values especially when they aren’t directly tied to their financial model.

“Environmentalist David Brower was once asked, ‘Why are you conservationists always against things?’ He replied, ‘If you are against something, you are always for something. If you are against a dam, you are for a river.’ I’m also a lover of wild rivers. That’s why our company has been involved in trying to take out obsolete and damaging dams since 1993.” -Yvon Chouinard, Founder/Owner Patagonia

This year Patagonia was named one of the most reputable companies for things like product quality, trust, citizenship, and ethics. The have made their purpose clear and it’s one that extends beyond profits. Patagonia stands for something that people understand and are a very loved purpose-led organization.

We can only hope that Chouinard’s example propels other leaders to become positive influences and light the way for others to assume corporate responsibility and honor company values more than company profits. Because a value driven company always acts in tandem with its mission. And Patagonia has been a leading example in embodying their mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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Sustainable Spotlight: For Days (4 the Planet)

The past few decades we have been living in a “throw away” society—from fast fashions to electronics, from vehicles to food and everything in between. Today we are going to take a deeper look into the fast fashion side of throw away culture and a company that is working to move us toward sustainable clothing.

Chile’s Atacama Desert: Where Fast Fashion Goes to Die

If you are unsure of what exactly fast fashion is, it is a type of fashion that is mass produced, extremely cheap, and on store shelves quicker than one can blink. Fast fashion has made consumers believe that we need to shop more and more to stay on top of current trends. This mindset has turned shopping into an everyday hobby rather than a seasonal event we looked forward to.

The idea behind fast fashion is to get current trends on the shelves of stores as quickly as possible so consumers can buy them up while still at the height of their popularity, and after a few wears (once the trends have changed) consumers discard these clothing items and the cycle starts all over again. This linear and destructive textile economy has led to a toxic system of overproduction and overconsumption, making the fashion industry one of the largest polluters in the world.

Fast Fashion Turning Ghana into Toxic Landfill

In 2018, in total 17,000 tons of textiles were generated, and out of everything that was produced only 2,500 tons were recycled; the remaining 11,300 tons ended up in the landfill. This means that about 85% of all textiles end up in landfills, most of these contain extremely toxic dyes that are either seeping into the ground or into our water. To put it bluntly, the average American throws away about 82 pounds of clothing a year!

Over the past few years, clothing companies have started to look at their fashion practices and have begun modifying them to be less wasteful and less harmful to the environment while other companies have begun creating 100% sustainable and recycled fashion.

Cue For Days.

For Days is a closed loop men and women’s sustainable fashion brand that was founded by Kristy Caylor and Mary Saunders in 2016. Their brand sells trendy and versatile clothes for everyone. All their items are 100% recyclable and produced in a zero-waste system.

Sustainable

They truly cater to the environmentally conscious consumer while helping to keep clothing out of landfills and supports the efforts to make the world more sustainable. The brand uses 100% recyclable materials, which helps the customer save 700 gallons of water every time they send in an item to be upcycled.

Sustainability is their number one principle. They use the highest quality eco-friendly materials while minimizing waste with reusable packaging which leads to company wide carbon offsets.

“We strongly believe that all fashion businesses must take responsibility for what happens to clothes after our customers love them and wear through them. Our job is to figure out how to make participation in the circular economy an easy, seamless and rewarding experience for all fashion lovers.” – Kristy Caylor, Co-Founder and CEO of For Days

 

 

How it works:

For Days will take back any of its clothes and either upcycle or recycle those materials into something new. And as a reward for returning your clothes (and keeping them out of the trash), they will give you store credit.

Don’t have any For Days clothing yet?! You’re in luck! They also accept all other unwanted or forgotten clothing you may have in your closet, regardless of brand or condition. All you have to do is order a Take Back Bag from their website, (you will instantly receive $20 Closet Cash Credit to shop with them) fill it up with any clothing or scraps you have and send it back to them. For Days will take it from there! With your items either being downcycled, recycled, or resold to partners that service lower income communities.

To date, For Days has 6.9 million pound of CO2, 9.45 million gallons of water, and 875,000 pounds of clothing waste from landfills. In 2019, they participated in the Los Angeles Renewable Energy Program and committed to the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles, and in 2020 For Days was officially a certified carbon neutral company.

Outside of creating an incredible and sustainable circular economy for fashion, they also support the Ellen McArthur Foundation, which also advocates for a circular economy model that keeps products and materials in use while designing to reduce waste and pollution. They have also partnered with beam so that 1% of every purchase is donated to a nonprofit of your choice, from Every Body Texas to SurfRider Foundation, to the Loveland Foundation and more!

For Days has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Inc. and Forbes magazines.

If you’re looking for someplace to send your clothes rather than let companies like goodwill profit off of your closet check them out! Even if you’re not looking to rehome some of your closet, they sell affordable clothing that will not only look good, but feel good too—physically, financially, and ethically.

What you buy is what the industry becomes. You have the power to change the way clothes are made. Shop sustainable.

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

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5 Quick Ways to Reduce Your Company’s Carbon Footprint (Part 3 of 3)

Thanks for coming back for the final portion of this blog series! In the previous two posts we have discussed a few different ways to lessen your company’s carbon footprint—switching your company fleet to electric vehicles, installing solar panels, repurposing old buildings for your company needs, and looking into banking intentionally. The last, but not least, way you can reduce your ecological impact on the world is to switch over to sustainable packaging. I know some company’s offer services instead of products, and in that case buying from companies that use sustainable packaging whenever possible. Let’s dive in!

5. Use Sustainable Packaging

Cutting out single use packaging is paramount to reducing your carbon footprint in today’s world. From plastic bubble wrap to Styrofoam, single use plastics to cardboard, the materials used in product packaging plays a role in our daily lives and impacts the environment in a negative way. Our culture has become reliant on convenience and cheap and quickly made products, which makes it difficult to lead a zero-waste life. Using ecofriendly packaging in your companies’ operations is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

Carbon FootprintIn 2018, the EPA reported that containers and packaging make up 28.1%—that’s 82.2 million tons—of total waste generation. Out of the 82 million tons generated, landfills received 30.5 million tons of packaging waste that year and 10 million tons of it was plastic containers and packaging.  The packaging materials that end up in the landfills are lost forever as a resource leading to more environmental waste.

Another report done by the Organisation Economic Cooperation and Development in 2022, estimates that the total amount of global waste will almost triple by 2060, two-thirds of it being made up of short-lived items such a plastic packaging. Aside from that, plastic leakages are expected to double by 2060, furthering concerns about plastic pollution in our soils and marine ecosystem.

We can do our part in helping to reduce the amount of packaging that ends up in landfills or in the oceans by switching to eco-friendly packaging. There are a few things to look for when it comes to choosing packaging that is sustainable. Some things to pay attention to when shopping around for ecofriendly packaging are:

  • Raw or 100% recycled materials
  • Choose paper over plastic

Paper is renewable and biodegradable, which makes it a great place to start.

  • Look for FSC certified paper

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certifies that any product that has come from a forest has been sourced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible way.

  • Paper with safe non-toxic dyes

Steer clear of toxic dyes like petroleum-based ink, and dyes that are natural and non-toxic such as soy.

  • Aim for acid-free paper

If you use paper for packaging, look for paper that is acid free; not only does it last longer than acid-based papers but it can also be reused more often.

  • Avoid excess packing materials

Less is more in today’s world, especially when it comes to packaging. If you need to use more materials, try to use materials that can be reused instead of new packaging.

To really go the extra mile, aim for truly compostable synthetic alternatives to packaging, while it is more difficult to find truly biodegradable packaging it is out there. Instead of using stryofoam you can use corn foam; which is biodegradable, water dissolvable, and even edible. It can be used to make biodegradable packing peanuts and is also an excellent alternative to bubble wrap.

If you’re packaging breakables, try using mushroom packaging such as, MycoComposite. It’s made from mushrooms and it’s C2C Certified, flame and water resistant, and also biodegradable. You can also look into packaging that has been recycled packaging that is compostable! Some other forms of ecofriendly packaging are corrugated packaging, glassine packaging, and cellulose packaging; which is a great alternative to plastic packaging because cellulose is biodegradable and compostable!

Some of these options may cost a little extra but look at it as an investment to humanity’s future while creating a loyal customer base. PackHelp found that 30% of consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that deliver on sustainability claims and 37% prioritize sustainability when making purchasing decisions. Keep that in mind the next time you are packaging your products or purchasing products from other companies.

By switching to sustainable packaging or buying from companies that use sustainable packaging you’re taking a step in the right direction of reducing the number of materials that end up in landfills and our environment. Using packaging that can be reused creates a circular economy around the packaging, which extends its life cycle and usability.

 

I know there are plenty of additional ways to reduce your carbon footprint, these five were ones that I felt to be the most important from a company viewpoint. Some of you may be asking ‘why do I need to reduce my carbon footprint?’ The reality of the situation is that climate change is too extreme to ignore anymore and the links between climate change and greenhouse emissions is too evident.

By lowering your carbon footprint, you can help contribute to the overall reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.  When companies start reducing their ecological footprint, consumers will follow suit and start taking steps to reduce theirs. If you are curious to know what your companies or even your own personal carbon footprint looks like, you can find out here. Hopefully these tips have helped to start your journey to living a net-zero life. With our powers combined, we can save the world!

 

Note: This article was written for SUNTEX by guest writer, Kari Norvell. Please reach out to SUNTEX directly if you have any questions regarding this article, or the blog post content.

 

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