Which Renewable Energy Source Should I Choose?

In a society that is growing ever more aware of its impact upon the environment, this is one of the many ever present questions people have.

Flagstaff is currently in an odd spot for renewable energy. Although it does receive sunlight, it is not consistent like in Phoenix. Also, no major rivers run close to Flagstaff. The terrain is also rough and uneven. However, this should not dissuade you from investing in renewable energy here in Flagstaff.

Solar power is the one of the three, and quite possibly the most well known, older faces of renewable energy. While Flagstaff, as previously mentioned, receives less sunlight than most of Arizona, it is still viable to invest in solar power. The upfront costs to installing a typical 5 kW system is made up in saved energy within 12 years. 18 years after that, a profit in $23,000 is made in saved energy. Even if the upfront costs to a solar system is too prohibitive, it is still entirely possible to buy small solar generators or solar lights.

Hydroelectric power is, unfortunately, not a very viable venture within Flagstaff. However, it is still possible to build microhydropower system and use that to generate electricity off of small streams.

One of the oldest sources of energy, wind power should be considered in Flagstaff. The city currently sits within a wind density zone that makes building large turbines a decent expenditure. If a Sky Stream 3.7 kWh wind turbine were to be build in Flagstaff, it would take only 7 to 11 years to recuperate the costs as opposed to the 12 years of solar energy. While smaller, home-based wind turbines are not quite as efficient in terms of energy production, they still should be considered. After all, the costs of building and installing one is not as prohibitive with systems costing as low as $3000. Even Northern Arizona University has a small wind turbine set up to power its renewable energy instruction laboratory.

So while Flagstaff may not seem to be an ideal location for renewable energy, it has the potential to be able to produce vast amounts of energy from renewable resources. So please, for the welfare of not just the Earth but for the welfare of the human race in general, take into consideration the possibility of power generation from renewable resources.

How To Reduce Your Ecological Footprint

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“Every action has an equal opposite reaction,” this may seem like an obvious idea but few people take this into consideration when living their everyday lives. The people of this world are not taking into consideration the amount of energy and natural resources that are being used by the most minute tasks. Every person leaves behind an ecological footprint when they pass away and recently the size of shoe that is leaving its imprint is taking up a large chunk of the world with just one step. An ecological footprint is the “measurement of the ecological assets that a given person/population requires to produce the natural resources it consumes and to absorb its waste” (Ecological Footprint). In simpler terms an ecological footprint is the impact a person has on Earth expressed by the amount of natural resources they exploit. In this how to paper, I will be giving simple ways each person can reduce their own ecological footprints and make sure that this world is here to stay for future generations.

When reducing our ecological footprint starting with the small things is probably the easiest way to begin. It will be an adjustment at first but similar to all other habits, once you do the small things for a while they will become almost second nature. To begin, one of the easiest things we can all do to reduce our ecological footprint is recycling (Reduce Your Ecological Footprint). Whether this is recycling objects within our household or taking our recyclables to local recycling center. We can recycle almost everything including paper, glass, aluminum, plastic, and even electronics. By recycling more frequently you are allowing for natural resources to have more time to replenish before it is needed again, plus most things were made for more than a one-time use. An extremely easy task that would help tremendously in reducing your footprint is giving up plastic water bottles (Reduce Your Ecological Footprint). Plastic water bottles are one of the leading materials in the oceans and landfills. By having the same water bottle that you use every day, you can reduce the amount of plastic being made by water bottle companies and help stop the plastic islands in the oceans from getting any bigger. Another step you can take to reduce your ecological footprint is by unplugging everything before you leave the house. Large electronics still suck up energy even when they are turned off so by unplugging the electronics you are saving electricity and saving money because your power bill will be lowered (Reducing Your Ecological Footprint). An easy way to unplug all your electronics is by using a power strip. If you use a power strip you just have to un plug and plug back in one thing which easy to do compared to unplugging each item one at a time. If you do not want to use a power strip you can also unplug each appliance after you are done using it. The past three things I have mentioned are steps you can take to reducing your ecological footprint inside your home.  They are simple and if you stick to doing them every day you will reduce the size of your footprint and even save some money.

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These next steps I am going to talk about deal with your carbon emissions. These are a little bit harder to stick with but will have a dramatic change in your ecological footprint. Driving less or carpooling are two major things you can do when it comes to reducing your carbon emissions(Conger). I know this does not sound like the most ideal situation but even if it is just once a week or double checking you have everything when you are at the grocery store so you do not have to go back for a second trip, you are still reducing your carbon emissions and saving money on gas. If you are planning on going on a trip, try getting there some other way besides by airplane. Airplanes are a huge factor in carbon emissions(Conger). I know it might not seem ideal but if you care about his earth and are trying to reduce the impact you leave, skipping out on a plane ride will help you reach that goal. Reducing your carbon emissions will be harder to do then the three steps I listed in the previous paragraph but will have a larger impact in reducing your overall ecological footprint.

Reducing your ecological footprint will take some work, but by doing just the small things you can help save the earth and help out future generations by leaving them at least a tiny bit of resources for them to work with. Plus, you will be saving money which is always a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Conger, Nick. “Our Footprint in Seven Facts.” WWF. World Wildlife Fund, 09 May 2013. Web.    25 Apr. 2017.

“Ecological Footprint.” Ecological Footprint. Global Footprint Network, Dec. 2016. Web. 24         Apr. 2017.

“Reduce Your Ecological Footprint.” Reduce Your Ecological Footprint. RESET, Mar. 2016.         Web. 24 Apr. 2017.

How To Live A Good Life

I wanted to make a how to for a good life because for everyone a good life is different and can be reached in different ways. This how to is not meant to force you to live your life in this way, but if you are feeling lost or not sure where to go next with your life this how to can be a great guide line for you. I know you are probably second guessing your choice to read this how to paper but that is how I felt when I joined my “Living the Good Life” class. I learned and grew so much in those 18 weeks and I hope I can share just a little bit of that with you in the essay.

For everyone, living a good life can mean many different things. But one thing we can all do to make our lives better and to feel more enlightened with our selves is making sure we give back to our community. By this, I mean volunteering at your local homeless shelter or events that are happening within your community. Volunteering is the best way to get out there and make a difference in your life and the lives of others (Casano). I know for me I never volunteered until for my Living the Good Life Class we were required to. Now I have volunteered for three events within my community just this semester and every time I do go out to a community event I feel a sense of belonging. Volunteering not only makes you feel like a better person but helps others more than we could ever imagine.volunteers

Another thing that improves your life’s quality is just being thankful for what we have. I know it’s hard to get lost in our day to day lives and to always be looking for more than what we have, but if we take a step back and appreciate the love and compassion we have surrounding us our overall outlook of life will be much more positive (10 Ways to Be a More Thankful Person). It’s one thing to say what we are thankful once a year on Thanksgiving but try saying three things you’re a thankful for every day either when you wake up or before you go to bed. By doing this you will realize all the things you have in your life to be thankful for. Continuing to do this every day you will have a brighter attitude towards yourself and others. Many people are not as lucky as us Americans when it comes to what we have to be grateful for but by recognizing that and taking into consideration the others around us we can live a happier life and above all live a good life.

One thing that is extremely difficult for me to do and probably for most people in my generation is putting away our electronics (11 Ways to Live a Happier Life). My phone is always an arm’s length away or in sight. I know this does not sound healthy and I know that it isn’t healthy but if you and I were to turn off our electronics and get outside our lives would get a lot better. We are constantly surrounded by bad news and negative images while we are online and scrolling through social media. By unplugging and getting outside we are seeing natures beauty and all she has to offer. Standing and taking in the energy of the sun brightens our moods and even leaves us feeling rejuvenated.  When we acknowledge the beauty around us and don’t let others control our mood we tend to be happier with our lives. A happy life, to me, is a good life and that is all our main goal. We want to be proud of the life we lived and all that we accomplished.

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Following these three easy steps will help you in the long–run say you lived not only a good life but a great life. It may be hard to stop walking in the footsteps of society’s norms but just taking a few minutes out of your day and reciting out loud what you are thankful for and getting outside to enjoy the sun and natures’ beauty your outlook on life will turn positive. A positive life equals a happy life which equals a good life.

 

 

Work Cited

Casano, Tom. “15 Simple Ways to Live a Happy Life.” The Huffington Post.           TheHuffingtonPost.com, 08 July 2015. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

“10 Ways to Be a More Thankful Person.” Taking Charge of Your Health & Wellbeing.     University of Minnesota, 2016. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

“11 Ways to Live a Happier Life, according to a Psychologist (Hint: These have nothing to do        with money!).” A Happier Life. The Mind Unleashed, 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 30 Apr. 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

Project 333

Our society is known for being materialistic and consuming more than we need. Much of the time, we are being bombarded by advertisements in stores, commercials, social media, and on billboards. We are constantly being told that we need something that is better than we currently have. We are persuaded by the fancy clothes and how beautiful the models look wearing them. When we get home with our full shopping bags, we are excited to try out our new outfits and show the world what we bought. However, when weeks or months have passed, the familiar statement of “I have nothing to wear” lingers in our minds. We feel the need to go out and buy more and continue the cycle again, adding to our already stuffed wardrobe. Taking a moment to think about how much you are spending on clothes or materialistic items per year could put things into perspective.

“The U.S. apparel industry today is a $12 billion business and the average American family spends $1,700 on clothes annually” (Forbes.com, 2015). Our closets are growing, but yet, so is our amount of debt. “Our researchers found the median debt per American household to be $2,300, while the average debt stands at $5,700” (Valuepenguin.com, 2017). Another view to examine is the discontent among people that could possibly lead to their amount of consumption. When taking a survey of 1,000 women of how they feel about their wardrobe, 21% to be “unwearable,” 33% too tight and 24% too loose, and 47 per cent admit they struggle to pick out an outfit before heading out to work (Her.IE, 2017). As mentioned before, there are many solutions able to be approached when wanted to downsize and simplify our lives.

Project 333 has been a popular choice for many. It is centered around minimizing the number of clothes someone has in their closet. They have to narrow it down to 33 clothing items, which includes accessories and shoes. For 3 months, they can only wear the 33 items they have selected. During the project, the other clothes are stored away and the hope at the end is to help people realize that they don’t need a whole closet full of clothes and continue to even add to it.

During an interview with Shannon Cosner, who has been living by Project 333 principles for five years and ten years with being very intentional with money. The statement that hit home with her was that on average, we wear 20% of clothes 80% of time. Since starting Project 333, she has minimized tremendously and now has fewer items of higher quality. She has changed her consumerism way and no longer shops to feel better, rewards herself or goes when bored. She believes in striving for simplicity, keeping things that add value and let the things go that don’t. Most importantly, Shannon strongly stated, “Being an example is the best way to influence people.” Usually when people have less materialistic items and focus more on life fulfilling activities, they are happier.

Being aware of how much we are spending and putting effort into things that are not adding to our lives is crucial. Intentionality really is key and will lead us to spend time where we find the most joy. Downsizing wardrobes, consuming less, and finding the root of our discontent is just the beginning to a more fulfilling life.
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Sources:
https://www.valuepenguin.com/average-credit-card-debt
https://www.forbes.com/sites/emmajohnson/2015/01/15/the-real-cost-of
your-shopping-habits/#75fa5f951452
https://www.her.ie/life/the-average-amount-of-clothes-a-woman-has-in-her-closet-290514

Unplugging from Technology

If we look at the world around us nowadays, it seems that everyone has their head buried in their phones or other electronics. Even when conversations are happening, there is disengagement and interrupted focus every few seconds. We seem to be controlled by the buzzing and beeps of our devices. They can make us anxious, forget current tasks or keep us from sleep. Of course, technology has connected our world in ways that people only use to dream about. We use it as a way to escape and hide from the physical realm. This includes being on social media websites, posting, texting or playing games. The realization of this imprisonment of our devices is when we begin to become aware of our habits. Instead of worrying about when we can plug in next to our technology, we can make the switch to start unplugging and refocusing. This can take time, patience, and a little bit of extra fun in our lives.

On average, people check their phones 46 times per day (Times.com, 2015). This number is increased with the younger generation and decreased with the older generation. People seem to be checking their phones constantly and even use it as a way to look busy. Surveys show that 1 in 8 people fake using their cell phone to avoid talking to others (Healthland.time.com, 2011). Due to the impact technology has on society, has also lead people to rely on it to engage in behaviors they would not usually or rely on it for a confidence booster.

Self-esteem is something that is a very prevalent in the majority of peoples’ lives, especially from pre-teens to early twenties. Coincidentally, those are the ages that spend the most time on technology. All the way back to Myspace years ago to Facebook to Instagram and other social media sites, there has been a want for many friends and now, many likes. Likes have become a competition between friends and even strangers. With all of these comparisons being made daily, there are also many lies coming through the cracks as well. “75% admitted to lying about themselves on social profiles” (Nakedsecurity.sophos.com, 2016). We need to ask a few questions. Are people lying because they feel their lives are not good enough? Are they trying to make themselves feel better by creating a façade? These can be extremely hard questions for some and hit home for many.

Thankfully, there are ways to decrease the addictions of social media, simply being on our phones, and falling into the stereotypes of our society of lacking communication skills. When starting to unplug from technology, examine the amount of technology usage in your life. You can take it a step further by writing down the amount of time you spend on each device/social media per day. Seeing those numbers written down can make it more realistic of how much time is actually being spent. Then, look at what takes up most of the time and if it is adding value to your life. Depending on how extensive you want to make the challenge, you can choose a few options: limit use of apps/technology, delete apps that are taking up time/not adding value, eliminate all of the technology that is bringing in negative feelings or find alternative activities that are more fulfilling to replace the technology use. All of these are suggestions can be altered depending on your situation. The goal is to lessen stress, comparisons, distractions, and add more intention, purposeful relationships, fulfilling interactions, and activities that bring you true joy.
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Sources:

Survey: 1 in 8 Fake Using Their Cell Phone to Avoid Talking to Others

Over 75% of people lie on social media

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2011/08/13percent-of-cell-phone-owners-fake-usethem-to-avoid-social-interactions/

 

Permaculture

For my FYS 121 Living The Good Life class with Professor Rosemary Logan, I decided to do a research paper on permaculture and more sustainable living for my final project. The research paper discusses how it came about, what it is, and how it works. Permaculture was created by Bill Mollison in the 1970’s, an Australian ecologists and professor at the University of Tasmania. Permaculture is a philosophy of working together rather than against nature. It consists of protracted and thoughtful observations rather than thoughtless labor. Lastly, Permaculture also helps provide food for families by planting.

When in Sedona…

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Mario’s Greenhouse. His tomato vines.
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Beautiful view of the creek in Sedona.

 

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Apple Orchard at the Garland’s Lounge.

On Sunday, October 30th a group of students from our Growing Community class took a trip down to Sedona where we got to experience many different activities. First, we went to Garland’s Lodge where we met with a man named Mario who showed us his magnificent garden and his greenhouse. He gave us some information on how he’s had to put wire up around the garden to keep the deer and other animals out. Mario also explained how he tested two different pest controls in his greenhouse. He also had huge vines of kiwis growing around and on his greenhouse. During our time at the Garland’s Lodge we got to see the Apple Orchard where they sell their apples at the local Sedona Farmer’s Market. We also got to play in the creek at the entrance of the Garland’s Lounge. We then went to the Indian Gardens Cafe and had delicious homemade local foods for lunch. After the cafe we headed to the Sedona Farmer’s Market. On our drive we got to see a little bit of downtown Sedona and got to meet some locals at the Farmer’s Market. At the Farmer’s Market, we talked to director of the market, and she informed us on the rules of how you can be a part of the market and also on some history of the Farmer’s Market. Some interesting things that she told us was that all venders are local and there are only food venders at the market. Overall it was a wonderful day and we got to experience a lot of new things in Sedona.

 

By: Joanie Strattman & Madi Skansi 

Photos by: Shaelin Wood