Solve the Global Housing Crisis by Recognizing Buyers

the suburbs

The cost of housing has skyrocketed since the banker-caused 2008 financial crisis and there are no signs of prices stabilizing. In Toronto we’ve seen the price of housing rise faster than wages and the same can be said for nearly every major city on the planet. A key reason this is happening stems from using housing as a commodity for money laundering. Yes, that’s right the cost of your house is higher because governments are letting criminals artificially inflate the market.

In the states, like elsewhere, housing can be bought by secretive numbered companies (which don’t disclose who owns what). So the American Treasury ran a very simple pilot project to stop money laundering through real estate by looking into these secretive buyers. They made insurance companies find out who actually owned companies that were buying luxury real estate in a few cities.

It also seems to have had an effect on the market. Since the scheme started, there has been an almost 70% drop in companies buying real estate with just cash, according to an academic paper published last year. Those figures suggest that “anonymity plays a significant role” in people using secretive shell companies to buy property, and money-laundering was a “likely cause” for wanting that secrecy, Ville Rantala, a finance professor at Miami Business School and co-author of the paper, told Quartz after the paper’s publication last summer.

This is more than just a moral issue—it has national security implications. Rantala pointed to Russians hit by sanctions after the Kremlin’s efforts to sway the 2016 presidential election. “If there are these kinds of loopholes, it’s hard to know whether people targeted by sanctions may be able to make purchases in the US—so there’s really cause to be concerned about anonymous buyers,” he said.

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Inspiration from the Past: Be Less Productive

conversation

The last century witnessed multiple calls for shorter work days (8 hours!) and more vacation time; this century we’ve been focussed on helping companies make more money. We presently live in a culture that values “productivity” over all else and many take it as a point of pride that they have little leisure time. What if we changed that and set our sites on making our working lives easier? That’s the question being asked over at The Week, and it’s worth considering.

I am struck by this unquestioning assumption that people ought to make their choices based on “business logic.” Is the idea that the government ought to help us carve out the time and space to dip our toes in the ocean or watch birds at the park just for the sake of it so inappropriate or bizarre?

It wasn’t always this way. More than 100 years ago, states began listening to workers’ demands and limiting the hours employers could make people work. Later, in the 1930s and ’40s, the federal government did the same thing on the national level. And governments didn’t just guarantee people the free time to pay attention to things one might deem “unproductive” — they also helped them find unproductive things to do. Indeed, early 20th-century political leaders made playgrounds and public spaces a priority. Teddy Roosevelt, who helped create the national parks system, ensuring Americans’ access to wild and beautiful places, frequently described the power of nature in decidedly non-instrumental terms. “There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm,” he once wrote.

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Ethiopia Planted 350 Million Trees in One Day

Forest

Earlier this year a group of scientists released a report that planting 1 trillion trees will essentially undo a decade of human carbon output. Ethiopia is doing its part by planting 350 million trees in just one year. The country is experiencing direct harms from the climate crisis (from deforestation to wildlife loss) and as chosen to plant trees to address those harms. They hope to ultimately plant 4 billion trees by the end of there rainy season!

Monday’s challenge had encouraged citizens in Africa’s second most populous nation to plant 200 million trees in one day. In 2017, India set the world record when around 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million in 12 hours.
Ethiopia’s goal for the whole season is even bigger than that; the national tree planting campaign aims to plant 4 billion trees during “the rainy season” — between May and October — according to a May tweet by Ahmed.

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It’s OK to Not Wash Your Clothes

Want to save the planet? Reduce how often you wash your clothes, you don’t need to wash your shirt that you wore for only one day. This is something you can start doing today to help make a better tomorrow.

When it comes to your wardrobe overall you can alter what clothes you buy to ensure that you barely need to do laundry at all. There are new companies and clothing lines that focus on making clothes which are designed to survive multiple wears without getting dirty. I think it would be great to never have to launder anything again!

Decades of marketing from the cleaning industry has conditioned many people to throw their clothes in the laundry after one day’s wear, even though this is rarely necessary. So one of the biggest challenges for brands pitching clothes that don’t need to be washed frequently is to convince people that they will not be gross, smelly, or dirty if they aren’t constantly doing loads of laundry.

Bishop, for his part, decided to create wool blends with other materials, including nylon and linen to achieve different effects. Synthetic fibers, for instance, are able to make clothes more durable because they are hardier. This was a difficult decision, because while wool and other natural fibers are biodegradable, nylon, polyester, and other synthetics are plastic-based so they will not decompose, but sit in landfills forever. “We had some difficult decisions to make when it came to sustainability,” Bishop says. “But we decided that our goal as a brand was to make it easier for people to own fewer clothes, and keep them for longer. So we decided to incorporate synthetics.”

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Try These Ethical Alternatives to Popular Apps

computer screen

Large tech companies find ways to make money off of your data without you knowing about it, they might even be sharing personal information about you with governments or advertisers. If that makes you uncomfortable (I hope it does) then you should consider looking for alternatives to mainstream software services and applications. For example you can replace Google with Ecosia or DuckDuckGo.

Thankfully there’s a group that is dedicated to making our tech more ethical and encouraging people to find these ethical solutions in an easy way via one site: ethical.net.

You can join in the conversation about ethical technologies and uses at their forum.

Ethical.net is a collaborative platform for discovering and sharing ethical product alternatives — whether that means purchasing from a social enterprise, thrift shopping, or learning how to fix your old phone instead of buying a new one.

What do we mean by ethical?
We know that “ethical” can mean very different things to different people.
But for us, it’s broadly about pursuing sustainability instead of growth, and putting people above profit.

Check it out!

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