3 Ways to Make Your 2016 Resolutions More Realistic and Attainable

Okay, we’ll skip the traditional holiday gift lists because, frankly, if there’s one thing you can do for the planet during this most hectic and commercialized season of the year, it’s to buy nothing at all. We’ll just go right ahead with the New Year’s resolutions because we all could use one or two.

Image courtesy of Calvin and Hobbes

Image courtesy of Calvin and Hobbes

The problem is—and this is almost always the case with resolutions—resolutions are so challenging to keep. It’s as if they’re bound to self-destruct the moment you decide on getting one. Here are the three reasons why resolutions fail, and what you can do about them.

 

Ditch the Element of Suddenness

When making resolutions, we often mistake the element of suddenness for urgency. Come December, we start committing ourselves to doing (or refraining …

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7 Ways to Sustainable Shopping this Holiday Season

From the get go, the phrase “sustainable shopping” seems like an oxymoron.  It’s especially impossible during this holiday season, a time when malls are jam-packed with various new exciting merchandises that tickle our every fancy.

Given the countless irresistible things we can buy to spruce up all aspects of our lives, how is one supposed to shop sustainably this holiday season?

You’re probably saying sustainable shopping is best left for hard-core treehuggers.  We’re used to shopping indulgently, it’s our money after all.  We shop for pleasure and as a way to reward ourselves, to have something tangible, to finally obtain that sweet, sweet fruit of our labors, so why edit ourselves?

But here’s the thing: everything we do leaves a ripple of consequence for the environment.  It’s called a carbon footprint—the total sum of greenhouse gases caused by all our activities—whether that be traveling by car, or watching TV, or eating dinner, or manufacturing the endless array of products that define our commercialized lives.  Even something as trivial as a cutesy disposable smartphone case or yet another fancy thingamajig that will eventually just end up being forgotten in the drawer—those little things add up and impact the environment because of their carbon footprint.

Of course, it’s the holiday season and we have to do some shopping at one point or another.  We won’t be a wet blanket and beseech everyone not to shop.  But we can at least give you a few tips on making your purchases as sustainable as they can be.

BYOB!

BYOB!

Bring your own …

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Geoengineering to Curb Climate Change

Every year, during the climate talks such as the one happening in Paris right now, the topic of geoengineering never fails to come up.

Geoengineering is just what it sounds like: engineering the Earth to achieve a favorable outcome.

Apparently, it’s a concept that’s been around since the ‘70s; even Word’s spell check recognizes it as a legitimate word despite its iffy nature.

Bioengineering and its many ways. (GIF from ChooseClimate.org)

Bioengineering and its many ways. (GIF from ChooseClimate.org)

And why shouldn’t it be a bit iffy? Geoengineering is essentially hacking the planet’s natural systems—whether that be the oceans, the soil, forests, or even the weather. The mere fact that our continued reliance on fossil fuels has been driving temperatures up to unprecedented levels for decades is already geoengineering at work.  Climate scientists just want to be able to curb the rising temperature of the planet, to prevent, if not reverse, its disastrous consequences.

Obviously, geoengineering is the scientific side of the climate change coin, which for the last two decades have always been mired in politics. What political stalling and bureaucratic …

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Real Talk on Climate Change

Not too many people are talking about climate change.

Yes, it’s in the news, it has plentiful coverage from the media people who’ve flown in to Paris to witness the COP21 talks.  Various think pieces are being written about whether this new round of talks will solidify the good intentions of the previous talks in Lima, Peru, or whether it will devolve into yet another Kyoto Protocol failure.  And the Twitter and Facebook discussions are energetic and lively among people for whom the topic resonates the most.

Climate change demonstrators left their shoes on a square in Paris after authorities cancelled their march in light of recent terrorists attacks.

Climate change demonstrators left their shoes on a square in Paris after authorities cancelled their march in light of recent terrorists attacks.  (Photo from The Guardian)

But if those websites that gather trending topics on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are to be believed: not too many people are talking about climate change.  There’s talk about HIV awareness (and that’s good, of course), about Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus, about Mark Zuckerberg finally being a …

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Resilience Is the New Green in Green Building

Much has been said about sustainability in green building.  But there’s another key component that needs to come to the forefront: resilience.

It’s the simple virtue of ensuring our buildings are able to gracefully withstand every possible challenge and risk applied to it.  These challenges can be in the form of severe weather disturbances and natural disasters (such as earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, and droughts—the last three of which we’re sure to be seeing a lot more because of climate change.

A house in Tacloban, Philippines lies in outright ruin caused by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 (Photo from WSJ.net)

A house in Tacloban, Philippines lies in outright ruin caused by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 (Photo from WSJ.net)

Or it can be in the form of political turmoil brought on by terrorism.  The point is when the power goes out (as is the case when natural disasters hit), when we’re reduced to our very basic necessities such as water, light, warmth, communications, how will our buildings help …

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