Pick Up Your Butts

In Canada, like elsewhere with snow, when the spring thaw comes it reveals plants and it also reveals something gross: discarded cigarette butts. Everyone already knows that smoking kills, but some people may not know the damage done by butts.

Butt Blitz has set out to do two things: raise awareness of the harm butts case and clean them up. They are asking you to help out this weekend!

Cigarette butt litter is a growing problem everywhere. We need to raise awareness about the implications this has for the health of our ecosystems, wildlife, and our own health. The first step to reversing this problem is picking up the butts that are already on the ground, from there we can spread awareness and come up with solutions that will stop cigarette butts from being littered in the future. Did you know ONE cigarette butt PER LITRE of water can KILL the fish in a stream? (Slaughter et al). When did we get so careless? It’s time to make a change.

Check it out!

Faster Than Oil, Clean Energy on the Rise

Economists are really bad at predictions, but their views carry sway over large amounts of capital. Their most recent inaccuracies have been in the energy sector. Clean, renewable, energy is making faster progress than previously predicted.

Renewables have seen faster implementation, more investment, and quite massive technical gains in the past few years. And all of these gains have happened despite the fact that oil is so cheap (in terms of money, not carbon).

Each of these trends — cheaper batteries and cheaper solar electricity — is good on its own, and on the margin will help to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, with all the geopolitical drawbacks and climate harm they entail. But together, the two cost trends will add up to nothing less than a revolution in the way humankind interacts with the planet and powers civilization.

You see, the two trends reinforce each other. Cheaper batteries mean that cars can switch from gasoline to the electrical grid. But currently, much of the grid is powered by coal. With cheap solar replacing coal at a rapid clip, that will be less and less of an issue. As for solar, its main drawback is intermittency. But with battery costs dropping, innovative manufacturers such as Tesla will be able to make cheap batteries for home electricity use, allowing solar power to run your house 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Only Keep Things That Bring You Joy

Are you sick of tidying your place all the time? If you are, just stop.

There’s no need to tidy if you go through all your items and only keep things which bring you joy and improve your life. Marie Kondo has published a book on the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.

I had spent three years tidying and discarding things, yet my room still felt cluttered. Would someone please tell me why my room isn’t tidy when I work so hard at it? Although I did not say this out loud, in my heart I was practically shouting. At that moment, I heard a voice.

“Look more closely at what is there.”

What do you mean? I look at what’s here so closely every day I could drill a hole through it all. With that thought still in my head, I fell fast asleep right there on the floor. If I had been a little smarter, I would have realized before I became so neurotic that focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.

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Go Ahead, Get Rid of it

There is just too much stuff in our lives nowadays. Victorian era maximalism got turned up to 11 thanks to globalization and hyper-capaitlaism. Odds are you have useless items around you right now that you thought at one time was a good idea. Well, here’s a better idea: get rid of it.

Take all that useless stuff and recycle, reuse, or donate it to better places. Of course, once you get rid of it be sure to buy less in the future.

I look forward to throwing things away every weekend. I have been living in shitty studio efficiency apartments for the better part of the last seven years. This precludes me from owning very many things. I guess I could own a lot of things, but then I wouldn’t have a lot of space for myself. Also, most stuff is crap. And there is nothing more beautiful than an almost-empty apartment.

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Clean Water from a “Hamster Ball”

Clean water is hard to access in a lot of places around the world. Sometimes water is accessible but not potable, this problem inspired a graduate student to create an easy to use way to purify water using something similar to a hamster ball.

Liow’s design was driven by a need to help the 900 million people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water. Over two million children die annually from preventable causes, triggered largely by contaminated water. It is an increasing problem in developing nations due to rapid urbanisation and population growth.

‘After visiting Cambodia in 2008, and seeing the immense lack of everyday products we take for granted, I was inspired to use my design skills to help others,’ Mr Liow said.

Mr Liow’s simple but effective design is user-friendly and durable, with a weather-resistant construction, making it well suited to people in hot, wet, tropical climates with limited access to resources.

Read the rest of the press release.

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