Ship Slowly for Greener Online Shopping


It’s that time of year when people buy objects for others because of social obligations or religious practices. When purchasing goods we obviously need to think about the story behind the things being bought (who made it, where it comes from, etc.). If you’re buying stuff online then you should also think about shipping methods beyond the quickest. It turns out online shopping can be the greener option as long as you don’t use the fastest shipping option. Of course, like many environmental issues this one can also be solved by not buying useless stuff.

A 2013 study from MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics calculated that the carbon footprint of a traditional shopper purchasing a toy in a store is higher than that of someone who buys the same thing online with regular shipping (more about that later).

That’s because parcel carriers use a more efficient delivery system than you driving to the mall, and the carbon footprint of a website is smaller than that of a brick-and-mortar store.

Read more.
Thanks to Delaney!

Be Safe Online

The American government recently repealed laws set to protect your privacy online, clearly the government doesn’t care about private communication. This impacts people around the world because a lot of internet traffic travels through the states via various online services. Safe and secure conversations are needed to keep a democracy running and we all deserve the right to not have our private conversations listened to. Still, we need to protect ourselves online. As a result of the recent privacy change, there is a lot more information published about online safety and easier ways to use implement practical solutions. Check them out and do what you can to keep yourself safe.

Use a Virtual Private Network

“The best option is going to be using a VPN, a virtual private network,” says Dillavou. VPNs are tools installed on a user’s device, like a phone or a laptop, that encrypt the traffic from that device, and mask the user’s IP address and online behavior from tracking tools.

VPNs are already a standard security recommendation for anyone working over unsecured WiFi—like what you might find in a coffee shop. But with ISPs now collecting data, and not just routing it, the workaround makes sense for home use as well. (They also come in handy when you’re trying to get TV streaming to work overseas.)

Read more.

Online Sex Ed Course Decreases STI Risk in Teens

A lack of education around sex can lead to a lot of unwanted things like sexually transmitted infections and diseases to pregnancies. For many people sex is a taboo subject so delivering worthwhile information to teens can be difficult due to parent’s attitudes. One way to get directly to teens is through the internet and, unlike abstinence-only programs (which raise STIs and lower condom use), a new online course helps teens be safer when it comes to sex.

The results of the study showed a 10-per-cent increase in condom use among students who had taken the course and a reduction in self-reported infections for those students who were sexually active when the course started.

Gonzalez-Navarro said there was a significant, positive impact on sexual behaviour among friend groups who had taken the course.

“That was pretty encouraging,” he said. “You get much more effects if you have groups of kids knowing the same things.”

Read more at The Star.

Canadians Black Out and Speak Out to Defend Democracy

BlackOutSpeakOut is an online protest running in Canada today about the omnibus budget bill that the anti-democratic Conservative government is trying to force through parliament without debate. This is bad and you should care.

Find out why Canadians are concerned here.

Sign an online petition:

Out my Window Documentary

Out my Window is NFB online documentary that is really great! It provides a 360 degree view of a person’s apartment in an urban centre from around the world. It’s really neat to see how so many people live and how similar and different a lot of things are.

Cizek says in her Director’s Statement: “To be human in this century is — more than ever before — to be urban.” There is a strong social justice message in the piece, in particular, highlighting how the peripheries where many highrises are built are too often ignored by downtown politics. Out My Window, and the larger multi-year Highrise project by the NFB that it is part of, might be one way to bridge realities between suburban and urban and raise awareness, but Cizek also insists that the periphery needs to be physically brought back into the fabric of the city. “In some places it may mean proper access to public transit (Toronto), in other places it might mean other forms of infrastructure like water, roads, electricity (Istanbul). We also need to link these realities culturally, in both directions (Amsterdam [as depicted in Out My Window] is a great example of doing this right).”

In terms of doing it right, the highrises have lessons to teach planners and politicians, if they are listening, in terms of local needs. The informal and illegal economies of the highrises are often harmless, quotidian services like barbers, and fresh vegetable delivery. Cizek says that these local entrepreneurs “…are technically illegal due to zoning and permits, but are vital to the communities: halal meat distributor on the third floor, daycare on the seventh, etc.” In Toronto, the Tower Renewal project aims to address and foster some of this entrepreneurial spirit.

Read more here and see Out my Window

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