How to Travel Green!

Travelling is a luxury our ancestors way back before air travel and globalization didn’t have.

But, now we do have this luxury, and we should enjoy it to the fullest, albeit responsibly, and in an as environmentally friendly manner as possible.


I don’t mean walking everywhere and sleeping in tents, that plain takes away the fun of travelling doesn’t it? The point of travel is to experience new and exciting cultures, meet people from different countries and ways of life, as well as see places that don’t look like the scene from your office window of course!

There are two main items to pay attention to when traveling and trying to be environmentally friendly: first and foremost are responsible travel practices that pay attention to local needs. Simply, your actions should have a positive, not negative environmental impact, and likewise social impact and as much as possible, they should be environmentally (and economically) sustainable.

There is no point in participating in “green tours” that are neither economically sustainable nor socially responsible since they will eventually fold without having done any lasting impact on the community or site that they were supposed to protect or preserve.

The second item is more common, and more well known. It is basically the reduction of carbon emissions, or greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible during travelling. Today, we’ll speak more on this point, as greenhouse gas emissions are the number one cause of global warming. Of course, cheaper means of travel has allowed us to explore and see new places but also exacerbated the problem.

When in the planning stage for a trip, even for a short trip, it is important to cease and stop all energy consuming devices that carry on passively while you’re away. Any activities that also contribute to pollution that you will not use, are also recommended to be paused for the duration of your trip, until you come back.

Here are some examples to reduce your carbon footprint while you’re away:

  1. Cancel your daily newspaper delivery

  2. Change the schedule of your automatic heating system (save on your heating bill!),

  3. Power down your modem and WiFi. If you have phones and radios, you can also unplug all of these so that they don’t passively consume power while you’re gone.

Before you actually hit the road – watch what you’re putting into your backpack or luggage. The reasons for this is two-fold. One, you save costs, and energy on your part (especially if you’re backpacking) and two, you save on the total amount of carbon emissions due to the lighter load you carry.

PRO-TIP:  discard and recycle all packaging such as those cardboard boxes that adaptors and clothes come in, and bring laundry detergent and fewer clothes so you can wash your clothes and wear them again while traveling. Simply put, the less heavy you and your luggage are, the less fossil fuels have to be burnt to transport you to your destination.

The key principle here, if possible is to emit as little carbon emissions as possible per kilogram or unit of weight that is transported, including yourself.

There are several ways to do so. The first has already been mentioned – reduce your total weight, and pack light.

When at your destination, of course, remember to recycle as much as possible, and stay in accommodation that reduces their waste and greenhouse gas emissions too. At the accommodation too, regardless of whether it is with friends or family, and during your entire vacation, remember to minimize wastage of both energy and material goods. This again, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, as well as reducing the amount of waste generated during your stay.

Remember lastly – to enjoy yourself! Happy Holidays!

Why the Sharing Economy is Here to Stay

Lyft, Coursera, Taskrabbit, Airbnb, Zipcar? You may have seen these names, heard about them on the news, or used their services. These services are all manifestations of what’s called the Sharing Economy (or Peer-to-Peer economy) in their own separate industries, and their popularity reflects a trend away from the more traditional consumerist style of buying from large corporations.

Wonder why? Well, after the crisis of 2008, the economy has become more precarious than ever, with household debt being steadily on the rise. This is especially true of the Millennials of the day (along with Generations X to a lesser, but still significant extent), who have also come to a realization that they could not live as their parents and grandparents did, what with the damage did to the Earth by the Industrial Revolution and beyond (Global warming, anyone?)

Thus, the response seems to be a sea change into a mindset of “own less, access more”.

Adding on that with the increasing lack of income security, many more individuals have begun to rely on their own pre-existing resources, using their own ingenuity to further tap into things they have owned but not put to full use.

With internet penetration increasing daily worldwide, more people are able to use technology to mitigate the risks of sharing their own personal property. How?

Through the Internet, and social media, we can use reputation checks or online records provided by service coordinators and platforms to ensure people are trustworthy, and the sharing economy’s thrives.

Indeed, it seems to be a win on multiple fronts. For one, you’re tapping into resources you have but don’t need to use all the time, by turning your very ownership into cold cash.

You’ve got a nice blue dress that you only wore once when your fifteenth cousin thrice removed got married? Rent it out to others, maybe. You get some of your cash back, and the person you rent it out to, saves a pretty penny as they didn’t have to buy a dress that they would only wear once!

Another thing is that the sharing economy, to put it simply, saves the Earth. With this, your assets might be used much more than if you weren’t lending it to others as well. What’s more is that you’ll most certainly get much more mileage out of it than if you were using it alone, a point that hasn’t been missed by the more environmentally conscious.

Let’s look at another example, shall we?

In winter, you have to heat your whole house, and pay for utilities and upkeep throughout the year, but you’re certainly not staying in there all the time, are you? In this, sharing a room produces less wastage of gas, water, and electricity per person.

Your roommate and you may use more energy collectively – but less individually, so that means less greenhouse gas emissions!

To add on to that, if you have a car, even better! Sharing your car with your roommate spreads costs, as well as reduces emissions since you’ll both be using one car instead of two individually again. Just a figure for you – car sharing participants have been shown to reduce up to 40% of their individual emissions.

The third fact is when you share, you build stronger relationship and bonds with friends and people you share your stuff with. One more interaction in this busy world. Go out there – help your friends, form strong bonds, we don’t live alone on our planet!

In our previous articles, we also mentioned several “Libraries of Things”, which are perhaps the most innovative incarnation of the sharing economy. Indeed, the example of having to first learn how to use a tool which you have borrowed is one of many which serve as gateways to greater bonding within the community.

When you lend something to someone, you’re going to want to know if you could trust them with your prized possessions – and what better way to get an impression of them than to interact with them in person? The sharing economy could be what we just need – a remedy to the individualistic and consumerist culture of late, and a chance to connect with others in an increasingly colder world.

But – there is no doubt that there are some issues with the sharing economy. A lack of trust still casts its shadow over the more paranoid and less tech-savvy who may be reluctant to participate in libraries of things and the sharing economy in general, even with the added security of today.

Another point to notes is also the fact that such ideas, and companies have increasingly been subjected to increased taxes and regulations, inflating the costs for both consumer and business as traditional businesses or governments attempt to adapt to the appeal and popularity of the sharing economy for millennials.

However, what is clear is that in the current climate, what with the rising costs of owning and maintaining assets such as houses and cars, as well as the increased jobs and services these provide for both consumer and worker – the sharing economy has found its niche and is here to stay.

Peer-to-Peer Library of Things

We’ve talked about libraries of things – and here we have our very own app for you to start your very own library of things!

A library of things is simple, and like any other library, a sorted collection of items. Most of the time, libraries refer to public or private collections of books. Libraries of things, however, unlike treasure hoards of old, are meant to be shared, and wealth and value in them spread amongst friends and family, and the people you know and love in your community by and large.

Think of it as a way of connecting with the people you know and trust, and on top of that, aiding them materially, and with a more personal touch. Giving people money and trading amongst your community for mutual profit is fine and all, but nothing says “I care for you, and I trust you” more than a cashless loan of a good, tool, or valuable item.

But like all libraries, it can be hard to keep up an inventory, especially with so many books. Books themselves are tough to manage and categorize – by weight, size, topic, and age range. Now, think about that in the context of a library of things. That’s where modern technology meets old school caring and sharing.

With Lendogram, you can organize the items you need, and keep track of what you have, and what your friends, family, and people you know have. On top of that, you can then keep track of what you have already loaned out, as well as what you need to loan from others, since you can view their items too.


Now, think about it this way. our app isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just making it easier to share what you have with the people you care for and trust, and for them to share their stuff with you too.

Every item loaned out can be checked on Lendogram, and any item available to be loaned out can also be checked. This simply means that if you need a tent, or ski bag for your weekend trip for example, you can check if your friends have it on Lendogram, and share it, instead of having to manually call everyone or for most situations – spend more money to buy something you only use once or twice.

You won’t have to waste your time going all the way down to the store to look for the equipment that you might not need, or might not use after this weekend. Just look at your iPhone, open up the app and send a request to your friends for what you need!

We’re not forgetting that in all this – there is a very human element to it all. When you loan something from a trusted friend, neighbour, or family member, you are not just simply borrowing an item and strengthening an already exchanging mutually beneficial relationship; you are also tapping into the skills and stories of another person in your circle.

Items in history museums on exhibit are always intriguing, and even more so because items that are deeply personal are usually marked with some form of personal symbols, or words usually. These, together with the context of the time period, along with the supposed purpose of the item tell a story of the person’s journey through a time period.

Now – you can have that same effect, but instead of relying on a small plaque explaining and telling stories about the owner, you can ask your neighbour who looks bookish why she has a drawknife and woodworking tools, and you might find out why she has them and more about herself! She might be a skilled woodworker herself, or she might have inherited them from her grandfather who was a Polish carpenter, who knows!

Now, keep in mind that Lendogram does not limit itself to solely tools or sporting equipment. Books, toys, children clothing, cooking pots, pans, party equipment, baskets, printing and silkscreen machines, electronics all these and more can be loaned out. If some items are too heavy to move or too expensive to repair because they are prone to damage when used improperly, take it as just another chance to get to know the person(s) who are loaning them from you on another level!

Offer to help them, to teach them, and you create value through another person learning another skill from your stuff. Now, isn’t that great?

Why be a Locavore and eat locally grown food

What it is to be a locavore, and why locally grown agriculture is great for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


To be fair, and to not subscribe and add to the misinformation hawked by hoax science and snake oil scientists, we need to be very clear on what locally grown and cultivated agriculture is; in addition, we need to understand the process of how locally grown agriculture is better at reducing carbon footprints for the end consumer (you) as compared to mass monoculture agriculture.

Let’s get started explaining what these terms mean:

What is agriculture first and foremost? Agriculture, simply is the basis of all civilization, and is the humble process of growing food. The truth is – modern agriculture has come so far, and is so technologically advanced (and artificial) since the green revolution of the 1930’s to 1960’s that a farmer in 100 AD in Europe would call it sorcery, magic, or blasphemy.

Agriculture is now, not only used to grow food, but also fuels for biofuels, making land more and more scarce for food used in direct human consumption, and we’re not even mentioning the amount of soybeans grown and other grains used to feed cattle, and other meat producing animals for our consumption.

That’s agriculture. So, what’s mass monoculture? How does it affect you? Simply put, mass monoculture is the process of adapting and reshaping land artificially, mostly using pesticides and fertilizers on an industrial scale, as well as a lot of water to increase the amount of a single species of crop a modern farmer can grow within a given area.

Just imagine wheat fields – they’re an excellent example. Modern wheat fields will spread for miles and miles, till the horizon with no end in sight to feed many hungry mouths many miles away. However – the cost for such monocultures are that the amount of nitrogen based fertilizers used, as well as water drawn from underground water tables, and pesticides simultaneously degrade the land, the air, the soil, and the local biodiversity.

How? Certain pesticides have been found to increase the chances of cancer through exposure to carcinogenic compounds found within them. One such place this has already happened is in rural Punjab, a state in India, which was a major part of the Green Revolution.

Of course – Pesticides also kill off local bugs, birds, and other wildlife as well as denying them an area of natural habitat. Sure – we need food, but at what cost? When the land needs to be reclaimed, there is very little chance that it can be rehabilitated.

Constant usage of nitrogen fertilizers in the soil to maintain crop yields (the amount of crops harvested from a single area) eventually seeps down into the water table to poison water in that area, making it unsafe to drink. This happens and hits rural communities who lack access to piped water especially – since they draw water from the water table directly using wells.

Groundwater – that is, water which flows through rivers, streams, and washed into these natural channels through rain, is also effected directly. Examples?

“According to various surveys in India and Africa, 20-50% of wells contain nitrate levels greater than 50 mg/1 and in some cases as high as several hundred milligrams per litre (Convey and Pretty, 1988)”.

So yes, unfortunately, our existence and consumption of monoculture crops may be a necessary evil, and this is the damage it inflicts. Now, we’re not here to lay the blame or guilt on you, we’re merely here to enlighten, inform and educate so you can know what steps to take to increase your own social responsibility and awareness.

The last part is important, and alarming as well as damaging. Not just because it is damaging right now, but also due to the fact that the system needs to be changed, and bettered, with technology and improved levels and methods of consumption.

This is basically the fact that modern agriculture relies on an entire network of fossil fuel powered logistics and production chains to grow, harvest, maintain, and then process, and finally, deliver and sell the produce to you.

Tractors to plow the fields, ships to ship the produce, freezers on those ships or climate control powered by generators, helicopters to fly over the fields and spray pesticides, large long haul trucks or airplanes tot hen transport the produce to its final retail destination – all these use oil to operate.

Now – this poses two problems, one, climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. Two, the instability of oil prices in oil producing countries caused deliberately or not causes price shocks, which can affect the price of food production. This is basically affecting food security directly.

Now that we’ve covered in more or less detail what can go wrong and what already has with modern agriculture, let’s hear the case of locally grown agriculture.

To define locally grown agriculture – it must be grown as close as possible to the retail source(that is, where you buy it from), and must be both organically grown and harvested.

What does this mean? Simply put – if you go to an organic store that resells produce from a farmer in the same state after it has been processed and packaged out of state – that doesn’t count.

If you buy from a farmer’s market where said farmer has already used artificial fertilizers and pesticides to keep his crop big and healthy but lives only 2 miles from you, that also doesn’t count.

The key aspects here is to reduce pollution and carbon emissions here. Check if the person you buy produce from uses artificial fertilizers as compared to compost, which is much less harmful compared to artificial nitrogen based fertilizers. Check if they use pesticides or natural bug repellents by alternating their crops and using natural predators, or if they use netting which physically keeps out some pests.

Check how far they come from, to see how much they have to travel to you to sell you their produce, as well as if they do any form of processing that also involves carbon emissions. The les, the better.

That’s how you can reduce carbon emissions. Good places to get such kinds of produce are farmer’s markets, as well as wholesale stores for organic produce. You may not be able to find what you want all year round – but you’ll find that the variation in produce will keep you healthy and provide variety to your diet!

The Consumerist Paradox

What does it mean to consume, why, and how does it fit into the system of capitalism based on monetary value as a trade currency, and why it feeds itself to potential undoing.

To start off – we need to look at Malthus and his theories. Thomas Robert Malthus was an English scholar who was most famous for the prediction of his theory of population growth.

Thomas Robert Malthus

His theory of population growth, while straightforward, is chilling and foreseeable, especially since his life and death in the 18th century till now, we have seen his theories at work in some countries.

However, he is commonly mistaken and quoted selectively on certain parts of his writing to be heralded as a doomsday author, as well as being used as a scare tactic.

What we truly are looking at, will be the two most important parts of his writings from his work : An Essay on the Principle of Population. In it, he writes

“Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.”

— Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter VII, p61

Sounds apocalyptic doesn’t it? It’s not all bad news though, but we should also heed those words. There is part two, a bit further on in his writings-

“The great law of necessity which prevents population from increasing in any country beyond the food which it can either produce or acquire, is a law so open to our view…that we cannot for a moment doubt it. The different modes which nature takes to prevent or repress a redundant population do not appear, indeed, to us so certain and regular, but though we cannot always predict the mode we may with certainty predict the fact.”

— Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population. Chapter IV.

Get the gist? The summary of this whole series of writings was to identify and acknowledge that the population of a given area, in this case, a nation-state, would be constrained in its growth internally only by its ability to produce and feed its people.

Other factors also come into play of course – such as wars, diseases and famine, but those are not related to patterns of consumption directly, and our modern pattern of consumerism today, so we will not be taking them into account.

The second part states that this (law of population growth restrained by agricultural output) will happen naturally, through means we know, and means that we don’t.

Just keep in mind this happened before the 18th century, and the industrial revolution, the internet, mass assembly lines and even WWII hasn’t happened yet. For many years, people dismissed Malthus’ theories due to increasing technological innovations and the green revolution which enabled countries to feed a lot more people suddenly.

Now, the consumerist paradox is this – are we using so much to the point that we waste so many resources and the system is no longer sustainable. Are we heading ourselves towards starvation?

A very simple example – In certain countries, cars are cheap, to the point where there is at least 1 car for every person who needs to drive. Now, since everyone has one car, and 8o% of the population needs to use the roads in the morning to get to work, the roads get so crowded to the point where it’s pointless to drive. The benefits of driving to work are now outweighed by cost of fuel used stuck in the jam, the time cost wasted in the jam, and due to the extremely long queues and jams, the health costs too, due to the air pollution.

Because of this, people stop using cars to get to work – cars lie idle at home, and people take the bus, take bikes, walk, everything except using cars. Now, the car is a wasted asset, its value plunges. Due to this, car manufacturers go out of business, and other car-related industries and businesses take a hit in their profits and revenues. The money that was spent on purchasing the car could have been invested in better commute infrastructure that would last longer than the car. That is the consumerist paradox.

Now, if you multiply this effect where society uses more than it needs, and resources are wasted – then both intrinsic and monetary value is wasted. Literally, we are wasting our resources and our money.

And if resources are practically diminished to the point where producers cannot meet the demand, and eventually all of it is spent, all money will be worthless since it will not signify any value of any resource of commodity. On a global scale, what’s worse is that a lack of resources will lead to an economic meltdown, which will then lead to consumers consuming less, or not having the ability to consume anymore.

To summarize: if we really like to keep our consumer focused mentality and economy, we need to consume less as a society and waste less so that we can continue consuming!