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TRVST | Act for Change & Social Impact

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  • Ben Hart
  • August 08, 2019 04:20:01 PM
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We connect people passionate about social impact championing changemakers, their projects, stories & empowering actions for social change purpose and the sustainable development goals. Our content inspires actions for good covering climate change, plastic waste, mindfulness and social responsibility across the board.

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Uses of Renewable Energy in Daily Life

When we consider the way in which we needlessly use energy, we could all do a little more. Taking stock of where we can benefit from using renewable energy in daily life can help our transition to cleaner sustainable energy.  Read more Uses of Renewable Energy in Daily Life › The post Uses of Renewable Energy in Daily Life appeared first on...

When we consider the way in which we needlessly use energy, we could all do a little more. Taking stock of where we can benefit from using renewable energy in daily life can help our transition to cleaner sustainable energy. 

In fact, if we are going to reduce our use of fossil fuels, then we can make direct and indirect changes. If we fail to do this, then we could see a global temperature increase of 2 degrees and the effects could be catastrophic. While we can’t all afford electric cars, we can choose to walk or catch the train instead of driving. We can limit how much we use certain appliances around the home. Essentially, it is about switching where possible and making changes where required.

If we can all do this, then we can reduce the amount of energy we use. Researchers note that reducing demand will prove one of the most effective means to fight climate change. It will also reduce fuel poverty and increase economic productivity.

What’s more, if we can make a switch to renewable energy, we can also save money. Renewable energy is clean and there is an endless amount of it. Once the systems have been put in place, the energy we generate is cheaper and more efficient.

So, how can we find alternative sources of energy? What changes can we make to our energy consumption? If we break it down and look at the options we have, we can soon identify just how easy it is to make a difference.

Various Uses of Renewable Energy in Daily Life

Opt For Solar Powered Lights

Many of us have garden lighting and security lighting. There is now a large range of solar energy lights available. As the batteries are charged using sunlight, it means that the energy can then be used to power the lights during the evening. 

It is a simple switch than can avoid lights being needlessly used. Yet, when they are used they use an alternative source of power, ultimately saving energy.

In fact, it is not just homeowners who can make the changes as businesses can too. Solar-powered lighting also makes it possible for developing countries to move away from using kerosene. Through reducing kerosene use we reduce emissions from both burning to light homes and the manufacturing process

Powering Homes with Solar and Wind Power

Install solar at home
Photo by Vivint Solar on Unsplash

Most of us have access to energy from the sun and the wind. There is no shortage of either which means that we can harness both and power our homes, leading to sustainable and off-grid energy at home.

It is a more common sight to see houses with solar panels on the roof. While this is not new, it is a technology that more of us are making use of. Systems are becoming cheaper and more accessible to many. As a result, almost 1 million homes in the UK have solar power and 1.3 million in the United States.

We can also utilise the energy from the sun to heat our homes. We can use it to heat water and we can use it to power appliances.

Further, we can also take advantage of feed-in tariffs where homeowners can earn money by giving energy back to the grid. Despite this, renewable energy and solar energy, in particular, is still facing challenges. This can range from economic costs of production and even a lack of infrastructure to improve its installation and efficiency. Therefore, there is still lots to be done. 

Wind energy is another form of energy that we can rely on. Depending on location, homeowners can install their own wind turbine. The UK as an example has no shortage of wind. The winter is a particularly windy time of year. So, it would be possible to harness the wind energy and use it to heat our homes at a time when we need it. Installing at home wind turbines can help to reduce energy use and it can also help to reduce energy bills.

As it currently stands, the UK has a wind energy capacity to power 14 million homes through the grid. This renewable source of energy can cut greenhouse gases by 25 million tonnes each year. Just through making a switch to a renewable energy supplier, more of us can access this clean energy.

Using Bioethanol to Power Cars

Bioethanol has long been seen as a potential replacement for petrol. 

Estimates claim that in just five years, there could be 1.5 billion cars on the road. If this is the case, then we will continue to need and produce a lot of fuel. The production of petrol creates CO2 emissions and as we all know, using it also produces harmful emissions.

So, it is about time that we made the switch where possible. 

Bioethanol is a substitute for petrol and we create it through the main sugar fermentation process

This form of fuel comes from a renewable source such as crops. Therefore, it does not come from a finite source. In the UK alone, cars make up 22% of all greenhouse gas emissions. However, if we make the switch, then not only will we reduce Co2 emissions directly but the crops that are grown will also help to reduce it.

We could also include electric cars as these are now becoming more mainstream. If we can accelerate the removal of fuel-driven cars from the road and charge our vehicles using renewable energy, then we are making progress in several areas.

New Developments In Renewable Energy in Daily Life

Solar Powered Cars

What was once a thing of sci-fi movies is now a reality. We now have the ability to power cars using solar panels. Previously, the technology was unavailable but advances have now made it possible. 

As solar panels have become thinner, lighter and more flexible, it has meant that we can install them on car roofs and bonnets. As a result, a number of manufacturers have unveiled some of the first vehicles that are run using the sun as an alternative energy source. Hyundai has released its own vehicle while Lightyear One has also released its own prototype.

Lightyear One Solar Car
Photo Credit: Lightyear One

Kinetic Pavements

As we continue to ponder new ideas and ways of using the energy we create, new ideas such as kinetic pavements also start to come up.

When we consider how many thousands of miles of pavements we have in the world and how many people use them, we are missing out on energy that is potentially going to waste. Fortunately, innovative ideas and technology is making it possible to use this energy. 

Pavegen, a London-based start-up has developed kinetic pavements. Using tiles made from recycled tyres, they flex when walked on. Every step creates enough energy to power a street light for 30 seconds. While this might not seem a lot, the potential is certainly there for kinetic pavements. If we can store the energy in batteries, we can then use it when we need it.

In busy, bustling cities, the footfall can fall into the thousands each day. Imagine the amount of energy we could generate every day if all our pavements were kinetic.

Pavegen Kinetic Sidewalks
Image Credit: Pavegen

Making an Indirect Change

Of course, we can aim to increase our use of renewable energy. However, renewable energy resources can be hard to come by, particularly for homeowners. It’s not always practical to install solar or wind. Despite the advances in technology and new innovative ideas, sometimes, it is better to take a “prevention is better than cure” approach.

There is no doubt that increasing our use of renewable energy in daily life is move we can all make to help reduce demand for polluting fossil fuels. That is a clear path to a sustainable and more environmentally friendly future. However, where this is not possible then we can make a change indirectly. By reducing our use of non-renewable energy, we can help to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

So, how can we do this in our daily lives?

Consider What You Drink

We should all try to cut down on manufactured sugary drinks. We should also avoid purchasing drinks that come in plastic bottles. Producing plastic bottles eats into our petroleum and natural gas resources at a faster rate compared to needing none at all when we get our water from the tap. 

What’s more, we also have to dispose of these bottles which further draws on energy resources. So, we should be saying no to plastic bottles, switching to reusable bottles and cups where possible. 

Avoid Heating the Home Unnecessarily

Many of us are guilty of leaving our heating on when it is not needed. We might be looking to keep the house warm in preparation for when we return from work when we really don’t need to. 

Most of us live in homes that have thermostats with timers. Therefore, we can time our heating systems to come on at scheduled times during the day. So, a couple of hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening can reduce the amount of energy we use.

Along with this, you can also drop the temperature by a degree or two and not notice the difference. What’s more, this will also help to save on fuel bills. 

Don’t Use the Tumble Dryer

Tumble dryers use a vast amount of energy to dry your clothes. Even though they are more energy-efficient than ever before, they are still no good for the environment.

In the summer months, when the weather is good, we can hang our clothes outside to dry naturally. In certain situations, it is also possible to do this in the winter when the conditions are right. Despite this, we can use clothes airers in the home that help clothes to dry naturally. It might take longer but with the right planning and preparation, we can significantly reduce our need for dryers.

Create Less Waste

We can all be more mindful over what we buy. If we opt for packaging that can be recycled and reused, then we can reduce waste. When we do this, we can also reduce processes and energy consumption. All of this can help to reduce Co2 emissions.

There is so much more that we can do

Reducing Co2 emissions and fossil fuel use almost requires a two-pronged attack. On the one hand, we can attempt to use more renewable energy sources. On the other hand, we can alter our thinking and reduce our use of non-renewable energy. 

If we can bring the two together, we have the potential to demonstrate that together we can reduce demand for non-renewable energy. The aim is to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable energy. Once one surpasses the other, we are then on the road to a bright future and a better environment.

Install renewable energy at home
Photo by Abby Anaday on Unsplash

chuttersnap

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The post Uses of Renewable Energy in Daily Life appeared first on TRVST.


Where Are We Going With Sustainable Transport?

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas and inspiration from across the world which demonstrate how real action can accomplish positive social impact. This month we’re looking at some great sustainable travel initiatives and what they mean for the future. The post Where Are We Going With Sustainable Transport? appeared first on...

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas and inspiration from across the world which demonstrate how real action can accomplish positive social impact. This month we’re looking at some great sustainable travel initiatives and what they mean for the future.

The post Where Are We Going With Sustainable Transport? appeared first on TRVST.


Say No To Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles offer us a simple and convenient solution that allows us to drink on the move and store many other types of liquids. However, over the decades, our reliance on plastic bottles has contributed to a global problem with plastic waste. Much of it down to growing demand, the single-use nature of much of our plastic consumption and the negative environmental impacts[3]. So, why should we say no to plastic bottles? Read more Say No To Plastic Bottles › The post Say No To Plastic...

Plastic bottles offer us a simple and convenient solution that allows us to drink on the move and store many other types of liquids. However, over the decades, our reliance on plastic bottles has contributed to a global problem with plastic waste. Much of it down to growing demand, the single-use nature of much of our plastic consumption and the negative environmental impacts. So, why should we say no to plastic bottles?

We are failing to recycle millions of tons each year. Plastic bottles can find their way into our oceans and landfill sites. Once there they can destroy natural habitats and negatively impact a range of life on land and sea. Once in landfill plastic bottles not only take 100s of years to break down but also leech a plethora of harmful chemicals. And the sight of plastic bottles washed up on our shores is not one most would choose. 

Saying no to plastic bottles is one small way we can all make a difference to the harm disposable single-use plastics cause. And if we all said no to plastic bottles we could together make a huge dent in our global demand for plastic produced from our finite oil reserves and their resulting pollution once disposed of.

The Size of the Problem

We should all, by now, be aware of the problem of plastic waste. Plastic packaging is durable, versatile and flexible but the one characteristic that really lets it down is that it takes centuries to degrade. Single-use plastic bottles are everywhere. And many of them are set to stay with us for many years longer than our lifespans. 

Supermarket and shop aisles are full of them. Many of us stock our fridges, kitchen and bathroom cupboards full of them. Either aware of the problem but yet to act, or unwilling or unable as yet to shift away from plastic bottles. For shifts do require viable alternatives.

Just take a look at some of the facts:

  • Plastic bottles can take up to 1,000 years to break down
  • 80% of bottles never make it recycling plants
  • We place 39 million plastic bottles in landfill in the US
  • Globally, every minute, more than 1 million plastic bottles are sold

While plastic bottles are used for many reasons, it is the plastic water bottle industry that is causing the most environmental damage. Sales of water in plastic bottles in the UK alone have reached £558.4m over the past 12 months. This is an increase of 7% when we compare it to the previous year. This equates to 2.2 billion litres of bottled water

Meanwhile, plastic bottles and bottle caps sit in 3rd and 4th place as the most collected plastic waste items from our beaches.

Recently in countries like the UK, we have targeted the problem of plastic bags with supermarkets now charging at least 5p should we not bring our own. Next up we must tackle a wider range of single-use plastic with plastic bottles clearly in our sights. 

So Why Should We Say No to Plastic Bottles?

Plastic Bottles Pollute the Environment and Draw On Fossil Fuels

To produce plastic bottles, we have to utilise oil. So, plastic bottles also draw on a finite natural resource. Along with this, the process of retrieving oil also has other environmental impacts associated with the drilling and production required to acquire oil, the raw material for producing plastic bottles. Such as leached chemicals and producing CO2 throughout drilling, transportation and use. And all these activities disturb natural habitats in some measure.

A lot of effort and oil goes into making one plastic bottle. A petroleum derivative known as polyethylene terephthalate is used to manufacture most plastic bottles. In fact, to get an idea of how much oil is required, you could fill each plastic bottle by a third with oil. That is how much is used to produce each one. It also takes triple the amount of water to make a plastic water bottle than it does to fill it. 

And we’re using a lot of oil. To give you an idea of how much oil the US uses, it was once the largest exporter of oil. Now it is the largest importer, importing more than 2 million barrels per day. One of the reasons for this increase is the growth in the production of plastics of which single-use plastic bottles are a big part. Research suggests that the production of new plastics will require 20% of our oil production within 35 years

Manufacturing Plastic Releases CO2

The manufacturing process also generates CO2 emissions. In fact, the majority of the carbon footprint of plastic occurs during production (as opposed to later in its lifecycle when its, ideally, recycled). This feeds into the problem of rising temperatures and sea levels as well as further damaging natural environments and wildlife. 

Our ignorance and lack of understanding have seen us pollute our environment with plastic bottles. Instead of recycling, when we dispose of plastic bottles they regularly end up in landfill. When they get disposed of incorrectly many find their way into the ocean. 

You won’t be alone in recognising discarded plastic bottles in gutters, on our beaches, in nature. In fact, of all plastic produced, a staggering 9 per cent actually gets recycled.

And if we don’t recycle plastic we rely on other means for it to come to the end of its useful life.  A lot of the plastic we discard that is not recycled is shipped to other countries for disposal. In the UK we only process around a third of our own plastic waste. Once shipped offshore, it’s harder to track, much is dumped or incinerated. In turn, causing more pollution. 

Either in landfill or our environment, for a plastic bottle to completely degrade, it can take centuries. As much as 1,000 years in some cases. And even then it degrades into smaller plastic particles or microplastics. Therefore, every single plastic bottle incorrectly disposed of in the environment still exists somewhere in the world. Plastic will always be plastic and can never change into another form.

Say No To Plastic Bottles Because They Are A Health Risk

As plastic breaks down, it releases harmful chemicals. These can then work their way into the soil and water causing problems to our health.

What’s more, our health is also linked to the oceans. This is the place where a large number of plastic bottles end up. Marine plants produce more than 70% of the oxygen that we breathe. However, plastic bottles that make their way into the ocean are consumed by marine life. Some of this marine life form part of the human food chain. 

Plastic bottles also contain a chemical known as Bisphenol A or BPA. This is a chemical that we use to harden the plastic and make it clear. However, BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. As a result, many health professionals now consider it to be a risk to human health. 

A wide range of problems such as cancer, fertility reduction and defects in babies have been linked to BPA. What is also a concern is the fact that 96% of pregnant women have been found to have BPA in their bodies.

The concerns do not stop with BPA. Plastic bottles also contain phthalates. This chemical gives plastic an element of flexibility. However, like BPA, it is also an endocrine disruptor. As a result, there is a link to a reduction in sperm count, tumours and even gender development problems.

We can Save Marine Life

Say no to plastic bottles to prevent harm to marine life
Marine animals including seabirds and sea turtles are particularly liable to be affected by plastic waste in the ocean as they can mistake it for food. Once ingested, it can stay in their guts and they can not feel the need for more actual food preventing them eating what they need. A study from the University of Georgia found that all sea turtles they sampled had ingested plastic. Sadly half in the sample died likely as a result. Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Marine life is suffering as a result of the amount of plastic that enters the ocean. Plastic bottle tops are known to end up on the sea bed. However, what is more concerning is that they are also being found inside dead species.

These animals consume them, mistaking them for food. Plastic bottles and bottle tops can clog up the stomach and intestines and birds are choking on them.

To gain an understanding of how much plastic is in the ocean, we only need to look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

At 1.6 million square kilometres in size, it is three times the size of France. However, we estimate that 1.8 trillion separate pieces of plastic can be found here. This is perhaps the most visible indication that plastic in the ocean is an issue. It proves just why we should think about going plastic-free. 

What Can We Do About It?

First and foremost, we need to reduce. We don’t need plastic bottles, especially with eco-friendly alternatives available. Instead of purchasing a bottle of water, we should refill reusable bottles and use water fountains. 

Bottled water is a significant contributor to the problem. However, many believe that bottled water is better for us, but that is not necessarily the case. Studies have found that bottled water is no safer than tap water

At the home or the office just go old fashioned and fill a glass from the tap. Of course, we’re not saying that we don’t deserve a fruit drink or bubbly pop from time to time. Where possible choose them in cardboard or cans. Of course, these too need properly recycling.

Sometimes a simple switch can do the trick, using bar soap rather than shower gel in plastic bottles. Buying washing powder in cartons rather than liquid in bottles.

Finally, recycling is vital. Realistically there is sometimes no current easy alternative to plastic bottles. When you do need them to ensure they are recycled as best they can be in your area. Ultimately if there’s vastly less plastic we don’t need to consume needing recycling locally there’s also a chance we can reduce our need to ship our plastic waste problem to someone else. 

It’s Now Time to Say No To Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles on the beach
Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

It is impossible for us to continue to use plastic bottles in the way that we have. We should now make a conscious effort to reduce plastic bottle use. In turn, we should each make the switch to reusable bottles. 

For too long we have been seeking convenience. For that, we are now paying the price. As retailers sell drinks and other liquids in plastic bottles, it has meant that our environment is edging closer to breaking point. 

Our lack of care and concern has meant that many of us have never thought about the impact. Many have never thought about where plastic bottles go. All of this has caused plastic pollution on a scale that will take decades or longer to put right.

It is going to take a combined effort. Manufacturers have to take responsibility. They have to seek alternative products that have less of an impact on the environment. When you take a look at plastic straws, already people are making the switch to eco-friendly alternatives. We have to find a sustainable and mass-market solution to plastic bottles too. 

Maybe there is a requirement to introduce a charge that is similar to that of the bag charge. However, there is no guarantee that this will solve the problem. 

Consumers therefore also have to do their bit. It is no longer reasonable or acceptable to remove all responsibility. Therefore, consumers should make the effort to think about their actions. They need to ask questions such as:

  • Where can I dispose of my plastic bottle?
  • Can I recycle it?
  • Can I reuse it?
  • Is there an alternative?

There are many questions but they all have answers. These answers could begin to point us towards a solution.

Further Inspiration:

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The post Say No To Plastic Bottles appeared first on TRVST.


Why Is Renewable Energy Important?

Our continued use and consumption of fossil fuels has contributed to record levels of C02 in the atmosphere. The time has come to make a change. If we ignore the fact that we are harming our planet then the damage will become irreversible. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and melting glaciers are just a few of the problems we face. So, why is renewable energy important? Read more Why Is Renewable Energy Important? › The post Why Is Renewable Energy Important? appeared first on...

Our continued use and consumption of fossil fuels has contributed to record levels of C02 in the atmosphere. The time has come to make a change. If we ignore the fact that we are harming our planet then the damage will become irreversible. Warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and melting glaciers are just a few of the problems we face. So, why is renewable energy important?

For too long we have been relying on fossil fuels. If we are to mitigate the damage then we all need to work together. The switch to renewable energy, therefore, is essential progress that we need to accelerate. 

What is Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy comes from a clean source and it is inexhaustible. Unlike fossil fuels, there is an endless supply of it. 

As it currently stands, oil reserves will run out in 53 years and natural gas in 54 years. Eventually, coal will disappear in 110 years. This might seem like a lifetime away yet despite our ambitions making the switch to renewable energy will take time.  And it’s a switch we must make to provide a cleaner energy future for the next generation.

Renewable energy is clean. Therefore, it does not produce greenhouse gases to produce energy. This means if we choose to use renewable energy, we can reduce emissions and help to prevent climate change. What’s more, the cost of renewable energy is falling which helps to make it more accessible than ever before

What Types of Renewable Energy Are There?

There are many different types of renewable energy sources and supporting technologies to harness them for our electrical and other energy needs. All can be used to create renewable energy in different ways and they each have a number of different applications.

  • Wind Energy: Through onshore and offshore wind farms, we can use the wind to drive turbines. Currently, there are almost 350,000 wind turbines around the world. All of which create clean electricity that can be used by businesses and communities.
  • Solar Energy: This harnesses the power of the sun. There are two predominant solar technologies in use to produce solar energy. The first uses the light of the sun to create energy while the other uses the heat. From small solar panels on individual houses to vast solar farms, they are all helping to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 
  • Hydroelectric: We have been using water for centuries to produce energy, using moving water such as rivers and freshwater currents to generate power. The flow of water drives underwater turbines that are used for electricity generation..
  • Biomass and Biogas: Organic material and waste, or biomass, can be burnt to create heat which we can then convert it into electricity. In fact, producing energy from organic materials is one of our oldest forms of energy
  • Geothermal Energy: The earth naturally produces heat. There are certain places on earth, such as Iceland where we can find and make use of geothermal energy. We can use geothermal energy to heat water which in turn can generate clean electricity.
  • Tidal Energy: Around 71% of the earth is covered by ocean. A growing number of new developments show that we can also use the ever-moving tides to spin electricity-generating turbines. 
  • Wave Energy: Waves are a constant source of energy. Using the vertical movement of the water, we have the potential to harness this endless energy source.
  • Bioethanol: This is an alternative to petrol and diesel. It comes from the fermentation of crops and now provides an alternative fuel for vehicles.
  • Biodiesel: Similarly this source of energy is an alternative to diesel that comes from vegetable oil as well as animal fats. 

What Does the Paris Agreement Mean?

Paris Agreement and Renewable Energy
Photo Credit: UNclimatechange on Flickr. (CC-BY 2.0)

At the World Climate Summit in December 2015, the Paris Agreement was put in place. As a result, renewable energies were given support. 

The Paris Agreement is a global objective with 200 countries committing to it. The aim is to reduce emissions such that the increase in global temperature can be kept below 2°C. This is the limit under which the most significant effects of global warming are prevented. 

Renewable Energy – Have We Made Enough Progress?

We must seek to increase our renewable energy usage in our switch from polluting fossil fuels. There is no doubt about it. In the last decade alone, we have seen a significant increase in access to renewable energy. Despite this, we are still not doing enough.

Many international climate goals have been put in place under the Paris Agreement. We also have a growing focus on sustainable development. However, for the most part, we are not on track to meet these goals. As a result, we are facing a climate crisis. Millions are at risk of food shortages and hunger while flooding will cause problems

Scientists suggest that we have around 10-12 years to keep global warming at a maximum of 1.5°C. If we can do this, then we can avoid irreversible damage and save lives.

Reaching Climate Goals – The Importance of Renewable Energy

Importance of renewable energy
Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash

Given renewable energy is a limitless source we can never run out. We can use endless sources that can help us to meet electricity demand. From the energy of the sun to wind and tides, they provide sustainable energy.

With international targets and goals now in place, we need to accelerate towards their renewable energy targets. Meeting the objectives set out in the Paris climate agreement will not only reduce man-made greenhouse gases. The increased adoption of renewable energy also brings with it a range of political, socio-economic and environmental advantages.

Renewable energy is not just better for our planet but it is also better for our health. A switch to renewable energy prevents many of the polluting characteristics of burning fossil fuels. Air and water pollution caused by fumes burnt by our cars, factories and power stations have been linked to everything from heart problems and premature death. 

In fact, a study originating from Harvard University found that the knock-on effects of public health in the US alone is costing three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year

Renewable Energy Is Important For the Economy

Further, renewable energy can help to create stable energy prices as well as lower costs. Local industry can benefit and currently, more than 10 million people work in the clean energy sector. The estimate is that more than 24 million people will work in the sector by 2030.

Moving across to renewable energy will also help to boost the economy. The International Renewable Energy Agency identified that by doubling the renewable energy share to 36%, it will result in global growth economic of 1.1% by 2030. It will also enhance wellbeing and improve employment opportunities.

When we rely on several sources of clean energy it also increases reliability and resilience. It means that we can call on other systems when one fails. We can see progress. For example, the New York metropolitan area began investing in renewable energy in 2012. This was following power shortages after several hurricanes. Today almost 23% of New York’s electricity needs come from a range of renewable sources. 

Renewable Energy Helps Provide Energy Security

Across the world, 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity. 85% of those without live in rural areas.

Because renewable energy sources are accessible they can help provide energy security. The sun and the wind can be found pretty much everywhere across the world. This means that it is possible to install solutions and access renewable energy from anywhere in the world. Every country has access to some or all of the sources of renewable energy. Whether that is a solar or wind power plant or utilising the power of water, every country can produce sustainable energy.

The Growing Importance of Renewable Energy

We should no longer think of renewable energy in support of nonrenewable energy sources. As such the aim is to provide sources of energy that are clean, green and reduce CO2 emissions. And our ambition should be to replace the need to burn fossil fuels entirely. It is a huge challenge but we have to see renewable energy as a potential replacement.

Many climate deniers argue that its all a hoax. Across social media, we’ve begun to see people commenting asking what is the worst that can happen given the switch to renewables? We don’t emit pollution from burning oil into the atmosphere, costs come down and more people have access to electricity and energy security. 

Today, we know that wind and solar power work. We have seen how they are powering millions of homes in the United States, the UK and China. The potential is there and there are more technologies readily available. 

We don’t believe that the climate deniers have a leg to stand on. Even in the event that they are right, surely switching to renewable energy is a good thing regardless?

If we are to meet targets then we have to think about the bigger picture. Energy companies have to invest more money. We need more clean power generation capacity. As awareness and demand grows technology will further improve, increasing efficiency and further lowering costs. 

Progress will aid in making renewable energy accessible to all. It is a huge challenge but one that we can face with the right infrastructure and planning.

So, renewable energy is important. It is more important than ever before and it really is the main driver behind saving our planet and future generations from the damage caused by greenhouse gases.

Kai Gradert

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Renewable Energy Non-Profits Doing Good In The World

The switch to renewable energy is an essential part of our fight against climate change. Thankfully, there’s also a growing number of energy companies out there genuinely working for a better planet. Below we’ve had a scour and selected some exemplary renewable energy non-profits doing good in the world.  Read more Renewable Energy Non-Profits Doing Good In The World › The post Renewable Energy Non-Profits Doing Good In The World appeared first on...

In today’s world, it’s more common than ever before for energy companies to get a bad wrap. Not least as many of us now seek a world where burning fossil fuels is consigned to the history books. As such, most of us realise that climate change is an issue we need to find solutions to. Not least 97% of scientists can’t be wrong. To do so the switch to renewable energy is an essential part of our fight against climate change. Thankfully, there’s also a growing number of energy companies out there genuinely working for a better planet. Below we’ve had a scour and selected some exemplary renewable energy non-profits doing good in the world. 

Towards A Switch To Renewable Energy

Not that long ago the big oil companies were largely held in high esteem as they busied themselves fuelling the industrial revolution. Of course, growing energy demand to fuel our cars, our homes and factories making our stuff were also partly responsible. For supply rarely exists without demand.

During this time when oil demand was growing fast many of us may not have even given too much thought to where our energy really came from. Or its environmental consequences. However, if the lights failed or the price of petrol went up we might have been worried. And that was the worst of it.

Today things are changing. The kind of energy company that drills, spills, burns and pollutes is now increasingly tarnished by its core activities.

Growing Climate Awareness

Global protests, science, activism and politics now all help to highlight in their own ways the many issues fueling our energy needs with oil has caused. And continues to cause.

There’s little doubt our energy future is no longer about continuing to use polluting nonrenewable energy sources. We now know we must move at a pace towards a cleaner energy landscape to prevent the most damaging climate change scenarios. It will be about clean energy generation, clean energy projects and using alternative energy resources that reduce our impact on the environment. In turn, the switch to sustainable renewable energy accelerates across the world.

Consumer demand for better, cleaner energy will further build momentum. Thus, if we are to protect the environment, the focus must shift from solely making money and profits. It should be about seeking solutions that help us to drive down carbon emissions and that do well by communities and planet at the same time. For we all stand to profit from a more sustainable future. 

As such, only by working together towards ambitious and shared carbon neutral objectives do we stand a chance of meeting our 2050 targets. With this in mind, the following renewable energy nonprofits are doing something right whilst doing good. So, as the world is seeking change, innovative non-profit renewable energy companies offering something different deserve more than a second look. 

8 Renewable Energy Non-Profits Doing Good

We Care Solar

We Care Solar
Image CredIt: We Care Solar

We Care Solar is a non-profit with a difference. Using sustainable energy from solar power, it is helping to change the medical industry across the world. The company began back in 2009 with a recognition that maternal mortality rates were needlessly high in developing countries. 

Certainly part of the reason was that sporadic access to electricity often prevented healthcare professional using their equipment to treat patients. And as mothers can give birth at any time of the day or night, even having to do so without the benefit of light. 

Therefore, after a visit to Nigeria, the founder Dr. Laurel Stachel felt the need to do something. Working with her husband, they developed the solar suitcase.

The aim of the solar suitcase was to provide simple to use and portable solar power. Their invention has gone on to provide more than 4,000 health centres with solar lighting and power. 

The solar suitcase now helps to save the lives of mothers and babies. Today more than 2.5 million births have taken place in facilities powered by the Solar Suitcase. 

SunWork

SunWork
Thrift Box in San Jose Photo Credit: SunWork

SunWork is rewarding those who are already doing their bit for the environment and have reduced or already have relatively small energy demands. This renewable energy non-profit located in California provides solar energy to those who use less than $100 of electricity each month.

The company has a mission to make solar more affordable. Through a team of volunteers, SunWork will install solar panels at a third of the cost. The aim is to help more people benefit from and contribute to a sustainable energy future.

All money that the company generates is put back into helping to keep the costs down for customers.

Grid Alternatives

Grid Alternatives
Photo Credit: Grid Alternatives

Grid Alternatives is a nonprofit that delivers solar to communities that need it in the US. It works with low-income families and other non-profits to offer free solar installations.

The company has a set of clear aims and is doing good on a number of levels. So far, it has installed 54 MW of high-quality solar systems. The initiative has already prevented almost 1 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

What’s more, the company also provides training programs. Their training programs help people to find work in the solar industry and contribute to a cleaner, greener society. 

So far, 43,000 people have benefited from the training, while 12,492 systems have been installed. The company has a clear focus on equity, inclusivity, diversity and sustainability.

Vote Solar

Vote Solar
Photo Via Vote Solar on Twitter

Since 2002, Vote Solar has worked to make solar affordable and accessible. Its aim is to work at the state level throughout the US, supporting the grid with clean energy. 

Another renewable energy non-profit company, it focuses on six areas in order to promote the solar industry:

  • Net Metering and Rates
  • Low-Income Households
  • Community Solar Projects
  • Financing
  • Incentives and Market Drivers
  • Grid Planning

The company has gained support from local governments as a result of its community solar projects and the way it helps low-income households access solar energy.

Vote Solar want to change the thinking around energy consumption. Therefore, projects, incentives and the development of policies relating to net metering has helped more people to adopt solar energy. One of the aspects key to the decision making process of adopting solar.

Solar Village Project

Solar Village Project
Photo Credit: Solar Village Project

Solar Village Project is an organisation that works to deliver power to poor communities throughout the world. The project installs solar power systems, giving communities access to a source of energy providing electricity that many of us take for granted. 

Most of the work takes place in Africa and India. The project works by receiving donations. Therefore, $50 will help to provide a complete solar power system that can provide light to a home. 

The company is also helping to reduce the use of Kerosene which is harmful to the environment. What’s more, homes can access electricity that they can use to charge phones that help to provide connections within their local communities and access to essential services. 

The Government of India promises that every village will have access to electricity. They plan to achieve this through the Saubhgaya Village electrification scheme. Despite this, 31 million homes in rural areas still do not have reliable electricity access, many with none at all.

Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF)

Solar Electric Light Fund
Picture shows am installation in Colombia where SELF installed a 12.5kW solar micro-grid. Photo Credit: SELF

There are 1.1 billion people living in energy poverty around the world. Solar Electric Light Fund aims to provide those people with a reliable source of energy. So far, it has completed projects in more than 25 countries. 

The projects that they have completed have utilised innovative solar-based energy solutions. This helps to power homes, medical centres and even helps to purify water. Therefore, they have delivered power to schools, health facilities, water systems, small businesses and communities. They are an organisation that believes in providing sustainable energy to the masses. 

Through having access to clean energy, communities can cook, clean, grow food and have access to better healthcare. SELF is helping to improve sustainability while giving underprivileged communities a chance to thrive. 

Ebico

Ebico is a UK renewable energy non-profit. It is the only energy company that works to fight fuel poverty in the UK. To achieve this, Ebico also uses 100% green energy.

The term fuel poverty has only been around for 20 years or so. Since various studies have shown fuel poverty to be a serious national issue. In short, most research talks to a ratio of 10% needs to the threshold, or more simply fuel poverty occurs when a household needs to spend more than 10% of its income on fuel. A study from LSE even found that poorer households were likely to spend almost £600 a year than better-off households on fuel for heating largely due to poorer home energy efficiency

As it currently stands, there are 2.53 million households living in fuel poverty in England.

Ebico has no shareholders and is a Limited by Guarantee company. As it has no shareholders, it means that all profits are put back into fighting fuel poverty via their Ebico Charity. This offers support and projects in areas that are fuel-poor. Currently, it delivers fuel to 60,000 homes in the UK. 

All of Ebico’s energy comes from UK based wind and solar farms. Their unique structure allows them to offer affordable electricity to those who are living in poverty. They have a zero tariff with no standing charge, providing people with the chance to only pay for what they use. 

Ecotricity

Ecotricity boasts the title of the “Greenest Energy Company” in the UK. In fact, it was the first green energy supplier in the world. All of the electricity that they supply comes from 100% renewable energy.

However, where this supplier differs is the way in which they use their money. All the money that they receive is put back into building solar and wind parks. Therefore, they also generate 25% of the green electricity that they supply.

The company has 35 energy parks, some of which are completed, some are under construction. and some are in planning. In ten years it has increased its installed capacity from 50.3 MW in 2009 to 87.2 MW in 2018

As the company has an eye for creating a sustainable environment, it also plans to become a zero carbon organisation by 2025.

Providing Clean Energy and Fighting Fuel Poverty

We live in an energy-hungry world and traditional energy suppliers have fed off that for decades. However, these renewable energy non-profits are proof that it is not all about pocketing the profits.

If we are going to make a change then we need to act fast. It is 2019 and there are billions of people living in fuel poverty around the world. To add to that, we also need to tackle the climate change problem. 

These companies are unlike traditional energy companies. They are all about working for the planet and community whilst providing energy solutions where they are most needed. As well as this, they also focus on creating energy from renewable sources. They are helping to solve two of the biggest problems we face – fuel poverty and greenhouse gases. Here’s to their continued success!

Gaston Abascal

Further Inspiration:

Sources & References:

The post Renewable Energy Non-Profits Doing Good In The World appeared first on TRVST.


Choosing a Socially Responsible Financial Planner

Whether you’re a business owner or individual, you may find yourself in need of a financial planner. But, maybe you’re keen to ensure that your money is invested in a socially responsible way. Many of us now choose to buy from ethical businesses. We do the research, and we ask questions to make an informed decision. So perhaps you want to apply the same logic here to ensure you choose a socially responsible financial planner.  Read more Choosing a Socially Responsible Financial Planner...

Whether you’re a business owner or individual, you may find yourself in need of a financial planner. But, maybe you’re keen to ensure that your money is invested in a socially responsible way. Many of us now choose to buy from ethical businesses. We do the research, and we ask questions to make an informed decision. So perhaps you want to apply the same logic here to ensure you choose a socially responsible financial planner. 

A financial planner covers a multitude of services such as:

  • tax planning
  • negotiating loans
  • finding gaps in your insurance coverage

They provide a service through many significant life events such as inheritance, having a family, or getting divorced. They help businesses to understand and reach their short and long term financial objectives.

So, you’ve established that you need a financial planner. You’ve also decided to make sure that your chosen financial planner is socially responsible. Now you need to find one. Here are some tips on how to go about doing that: (it probably goes without saying that none of the below should be considered as investment advice!):

Explore financial planner websites

Let’s start with an obvious one. Use keywords to search on Google (“socially responsible” with “financial planner/ advisor: should get you some hits). Other key phrases to search for are green, ethical, SRI, ESG, and sustainable investing. 

Generally, if a financial planner is interested in responsible investing, they will make this known on their website. This information shouldn’t be hard to find. If it is, or it’s stated in small print at the bottom of a page, then perhaps question whether they are the right fit for you.

To get an idea of where their priorities lie, look for any charitable work they might be doing. I found a financial planner online that stated that a portion of their income is donated to non-profit organisations. This gives me a good insight into their ethics, and I’d want to know more, so I’d request a meeting.

Arm yourself with responsible investing knowledge

So you’ve found a few financial planners you like the look of. Before you request a meeting, it’s worthwhile doing some research on responsible investing so you can ask the right questions. Here’s a bit of a guide:

Terminology: SRI / ESG

Firstly, it’s useful to know what SRI and ESG stand for. These will be important terms to know and understand.

SRI stands for socially responsible investing. This might mean investing in businesses that are involved in clean energy, human rights, or those that follow sustainable practices. It may also mean deliberately avoiding investments in companies that damage the environment. Selecting ethical businesses to invest in is known as inclusionary or positive screening. 

This is a simple explanation of SRI, and you should know that there are different approaches to ethical investments. This can be through engagement for positive change or delivering positive impacts (where benefits can be measured).

SRI observes the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors whilst still looking to achieve positive financial returns. ESG factors are measured before an investment is undertaken within that company.  

choosing a socially responsible financial planner
Image by Jack Moreh from Stockvault

Socially responsible investing – know the trends

SRI is growing at an unprecedented rate. The US SIF Trends Report (2018 Release) says that “(SRI) assets have expanded to $12.0 trillion in the United States, up 38 percent from $8.7 trillion in 2016.” 

The Fourth Annual Responsible Investing Survey from Global Investment Manager Nuveen shows that 81% of investors indicated that they wanted to advance environmental sustainability. This was compared with 73% in 2015.  Also, 80% of investors said that their investments should strive to make a positive impact on society. This was up from 75% in 2015.

Socially Responsible Index Funds

managing money and choosing a socially responsible financial planner
Image by Jack Moreh from Stockvault

Business Insider says that according to financial planners, index funds “are one of the best investments for building long-term wealth”. Index tracker funds look to match the securities within a particular index. Returns should, therefore, be similar to that of the index.  Linking back to SRI, there are a good number of indices which track companies with excellent ESG ratings, so worth a conversation with your financial planner about these.

Sustainable investing myths

Want to learn even more? Take a look at these five sustainable investing myths which questions the idea that sustainable investing is only about investor values, and not good returns. 

It’s also fair to say that sustainable investing is not only about the environment: it covers far more. Remember ESG stands for “social” and “governance” as well. It can be about safety in the workplace (social), or Board diversity (corporate governance). You may find this example of ESG factors useful.

The UN’s “A Blueprint for Responsible Investing”

Just a quick note about the bigger picture.  The UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has a ten-year blueprint plan to integrate ESG factors into investment management practices.  Investment managers will need to be much more transparent and will need to start sharing their ESG screening methods. PRI Chair Martin Skancke says:

“Investors’ responsibility to use beneficiaries’ money in line with their best interests extends beyond providing a return on their capital: it includes ensuring that that money is being invested in ways that support sustainable development towards a world in which beneficiaries can live fulfilling lives”. 

Questions for your potential financial planner

Questions to ask a socially responsible financial planner
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Stockvault

In 2017 41% of financial advisors said they would actively bring up SRI with a client. This compares to 51% in 2018 So the number of professional advisors bringing up SRI is definitely increasing, but it’s still only around half. This means it still may be up to you, the potential client, to start the conversation.

So, you’ve taken a look at their website and you’ve learnt a little about SRI. Yo’ selected financial advisor. It’s time to present them with your list of questions. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Ask about their website. Presumably, you selected them because they’ve made some sort of reference about SRI.  If this is the case, quiz them on their policies and their ethics. If there’s no mention of ethical investing on their website, ask them why not.
  • Quiz them about any ongoing research they do on SRI and ESG factors. How do they educate themselves on these issues?
  • Ask about index funds. Are they a good option for your particular needs? Ask them about specific ESG indices and what their thoughts are on these.
  • Query which stocks they view as unethical, and why this is the case.

A good socially responsible financial planner will ensure that they answer all of the above questions, as well as any others you may have.

If socially responsible investing is something you feel particularly strongly about then do take the time to learn the terminology. Also read up on some background information. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure you are comfortable with the financial planner you finally select. After all, it’s your money, and it should be invested exactly in the way you intend.

Disclosure: None of the above should be considered as investment advice or encourage you to adopt a particular investment strategy. Investment decisions should be made in consultation with a professional advisor.

David Di Veroli

Further Inspiration:

Sources & References:

The post Choosing a Socially Responsible Financial Planner appeared first on TRVST.


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